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SYFY WIRE super mario bros. movie

'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' director fires back on why Chris Pratt is the 'perfect' choice to play Mario

"He's really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart."

By Josh Weiss
Chris Pratt

When Illumination and Nintendo announced the voice cast for The Super Mario Bros. Movie (out in theaters everywhere next month), eyebrows understandably shot up throughout the fan community. Chris Pratt voicing the titular hero in blue overalls?

Sure, the actor proved his blockbuster charisma — and intense box office draw — by way of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World franchises, but could he genuinely embody the intrepid Italian plumber made famous by the voice acting of Charles Martinet? For co-directors, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, the casting choice was never in question.

"For us, it made total sense," Horvath explained during an interview with Total Film for the magazine's latest issue (now on sale). "He's really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart. For the way that Mario is characterised in our film, he’s perfect for it."

RELATED: Watch Jack Black's hilarious Superman audition while we wait for his big screen Bowser in 'Mario' movie


The veterans of Teen Titans GO! worked closely with Pratt to turn Mario into a three-dimensional character, who would be more than just a collection of catchphrases like "Wa-hoo!" and "Lets-a-go!" In particular, they aimed for "a little bit of a Brooklyn accent," Jelenic said. "He's able to be funny, to be heroic, and be that everyman."

Much like his live-action counterpart in the 1993 movie, this animated version of Mario starts off as a humble resident of Brooklyn, running a local plumbing business with his green-hatted brother, Luigi (Charlie Day). Their ordinary lives take a turn for the extraordinary when the duo is suddenly transported to the Mushroom Kingdom and swept up in a grand conflict between good and evil. 

"It's a bit of an origin tale," Horvath added. "It's the story of Mario becoming Super Mario ... When you play the game, if you don't give up, Mario will succeed. So we transferred that player experience from the game to a characteristic that [movie] Mario would have."

Pratt and Day are joined by a stacked supporting ensemble that includes Jack Black (Bowser), Anya Taylor-Joy (Princess Peach), Seth Rogen (Donkey Kong) Fred Armisen (Crankey Kong), Keegan-Michael Key (Toad), Kevin Michael Richardson (Kamek), and Sebastian Maniscalco (Spike). Martinet is also on board, though his role has yet to be revealed. Maybe he's voicing Mario and Luigi's dad?

Written by Matthew Fogel (The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part), The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens on the big screen Wednesday, April 5 — two days earlier than originally planned. A final trailer is scheduled to premiere during the next Nintendo Direct livestream on Thursday, March 9 at 5 p.m. ET. Pick up tickets for The Super Mario Bros. Movie right now on Fandango.

Want more from Illumination? Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 are now streaming on Peacock.