Why Super Mario Cast Chris Pratt As The Beloved Plumber, According To Illumination’s CEO

Chris Pratt and Mario side by side
(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Universal Parks & Resorts)

Nintendo fans were excited when it was announced that the video game company had signed a deal with Despicable Me creators Illumination to turn game icon Mario into an animated film. That excitement turned to confusion from many when the cast of the Mario movie was announced and it was revealed that title character would be voiced by Chris Pratt. But the head of Illumination swears Pratt is the perfect choice.

Chris Pratt has starred in major movie blockbusters from Guardians of the Galaxy to Jurassic World and he’s voiced animated characters in films like The LEGO Movie. Pratt certainly has a lot of fans but it has to be said that he’s not the first actor fans would think of when dream casting an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. However, speaking with Variety, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri says that the studio thought Pratt would make a great Mario, and so far, he believes the actor has done exactly that, saying…

Chris was cast because we felt he could give a great performance as Mario. And now that we’ve done about 15 recording sessions, and the movie is three-quarters done, I sit here and say that I love his performance as Mario…. I think we’re gonna be just fine. Especially because (Pratt) he’s given such a strong performance.

In the video games Mario never has much of a voice, but when he does speak he does so with a cartoonish Italian accent, provided by voice actor Charles Martinet. He’s been voiced by others for animated TV series, including Lou Albano, who gave Mario a Brooklyn accent because that’s where the Mario Brothers are from. Bob Hoskins did the same when he portrayed Mario in live-action, not that it helped as the live-action Super Mario Bros. is regarded by many as the worst video game adaptation of all-time.

It’s difficult to imagine Chris Pratt going with either a serious Italian or Brooklyn accent, which is where fans are, at the very least, curious, how this is going to all turn out. Some have gone as far as campaigning for Pratt’s replacement as Mario. Of course, the rest of us haven’t heard what the CEO of Illumination has heard. He could certainly be right and Pratt could be perfect for the role. 

For his part, Chris Meledandri, is of Italian descent and was born in New York, and the CEO of Illumination believes that background givers the ability to make the right decision on the voice of Mario in a way that won’t offend Italians or Italian-Americans. He’s also said previously that the movie still includes the appropriate representation because Charlie Day, who voices Mario’s brother Luigi, is of Italian descent.

The Super Mario movie is set to open next April, so it will likely still be a few months before we get a trailer that reveals Mario’s actual voice in the film. Once that happens, perhaps all doubts about Chris Pratt as Mario will be put to rest. If not, we can be sure that there will be some strong opinions.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.