The Super Mario Bros. Movie Directors Explain Why Casting Chris Pratt ‘Made Total Sense’

Chris Pratt's Mario ready for battle
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

30 years ago after the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie failed to critically and commercially impress (although it does have some supporters), the Nintendo franchise’s iconic plumber and his supporting cast of characters will soon be back on the big screen, but this time in animated form. Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie has gotten a lot of attention over the year for casting Chris Pratt as the title character, with many feeling he wasn’t the right choice for the role. Now The Super Mario Bros. Movie directors have chimed on why they think bringing Pratt aboard “made total sense.”

Several days after Chris Pratt poked fun at the Super Mario Bros. Movie voice controversy surrounding him, directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, who previously worked together on Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, spoke with Total Film about their work on this 2023 new movie release, including crafting an origin story for Mario and his brother Luigi and doing their best to make this feature “a very authentic Nintendo Super Mario experience.” When the subject of Pratt voicing Mario was brought up, Horvath said the following:

For us, it made total sense. 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.

While the public has gotten used to Charles Martinet voicing Marion in numerous video games, for the kind of story The Super Mario Bros. Movie is delivering, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic felt that Chris Pratt embodied the essence of their version of the character quite well. Like his video game counterpart, Pratt’s Mario is a plumber who’s transported to the Mushroom Kingdom and must save the day, even though he has no hero experience under his belt already. Horvath later referred to this movie’s Mario as an “everyman,” but as far as the “blue-collar hero” aspect goes, Pratt has certainly given off that vibe before playing Star-Lord in the MCU and Owen Grady in the Jurassic World movies.

Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are the latest people associated with The Super Mario Bros. Movie to defend Chris Pratt’s casting. In November 2021, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri called the actor’s Mario voice “phenomenal,” and the following June, he reaffirmed that love following the 15 recording sessions that had happened by that point. Then in November, a month after the first Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer debuted, Khary Payton, who’s voicing the Penguin King, said that he thought Pratt was doing a “kind of a fun take” on Mario. See what you think of Pratt’s Mario voice by watching the latest Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer below.

Chris Pratt’s co-stars on The Super Mario Bros. Movie include Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Charlie Day as Luigi, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike and Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, along with Charles Martinet appearing in “surprise cameos.” Matthew Fogel wrote the script. The Super Mario Bros. Movie arrives in theaters on April 5, a few days earlier than it was previously scheduled.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.