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Charles Martinet’s cameo role in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is perfect

Mario’s famous voice actor has a key part to play in the new animated movie from Minions studio Illumination

Mario and Luigi pose after completing a successful plumbing job in a still from The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The word “spoilers” is overlaid on the image. Graphic: Polygon
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Nintendo and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie features a new actor in the role of Mario: Guardians of the Galaxy series star Chris Pratt. He subs in for the man who’s been voicing Mario for three decades: Charles Martinet, famous for his cheery “Wahoo!”, “Let’s a-go!”, and “It’s-a me, Mario!” delivery. But Martinet — who is also the video game voice of Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi — does make an appearance in The Super Mario Bros. Movie in a very important role.

Martinet’s involvement in the The Super Mario Bros. Movie was revealed by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto in 2021. In a Nintendo Direct presentation during which Miyamoto announced the film’s voice cast, he said Martinet was “also involved and will be appearing in surprise cameos in the movie.”

If you want to know who Martinet is playing in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and you don’t feel like sticking around for the credits (even though you really should), here’s the answer.

[Ed. note: The following contains light spoilers for The Super Mario Bros. Movie.]

Martinet actually plays two important roles in the movie. The first is a character named Giuseppe, an original creation who appears early in the film, and who looks kind of like Mario from some alternate reality. After Mario and Luigi watch their Super Mario Bros. Plumbing commercial air on TV in the Punch-Out!! Pizzeria, Mario wonders if he and Luigi may have hammed it up a bit too much with the exaggerated Italian accents in the ad.

“What about the accents? Is it too much?” Mario says.

A character standing next to them, playing Jump Man on an arcade machine (a clever stand-in for Nintendo’s Donkey Kong), chimes in to say that their accents are “perfect!” and does an enthusiastic Mario jump and shouts “Wahoo!” in support. That’s Giuseppe, voiced by Charles Martinet. The moment serves as a pointed blessing for the transition between voice actors, delivered by the Mario voice that Nintendo fans have become accustomed to over the past 25-plus years. It’s meant as a hand-off — maybe even a tacit approval — from Martinet to Pratt.

Shortly thereafter, we are introduced to the other character Martinet voices in The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Mario and Luigi’s dad. In a scene featuring Mario and Luigi’s extended family of aunts, uncles, nieces, and grandfather, we get to hear Martinet again.

Martinet doesn’t lean into his typical Mario voice as the father figure. Instead, he closely matches Pratt’s Mario and Charlie Day’s Luigi, with a slight Brooklyn Italian accent. What really seals the deal for Mario and Luigi’s dad is a line Martinet delivers near the end of the movie, when he excitedly refers to the duo “my boys.” It’s a piece of dialogue that lands, especially when you know Martinet is behind it as the voice who brought Mario and Luigi to life.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie premieres in theaters on April 5.

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