Chris Pratt and his fellow Super Mario Bros. Movie cast members had their work cut out for them when it came to finding the right vocal approaches to their respective characters. As you can imagine, Pratt — who faced a lot of criticism from fans after being cast and again after the first trailer dropped — did a lot of work while bringing the iconic video game plumber to life on the big screen. Apparently, while prepping, he tried a number of ways to voice Mario. Now, interestingly, he says his initial voice was very different and closer to a beloved character from HBO’s The Sopranos, Tony Soprano himself.
The actor joined co-stars Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black and Keegan-Michael Key for an interview with Entertainment Weekly as part of its Around the Table series. During the chat, he recounted how finding the right voice for the plumber-turned-hero was no easy task. The Guardians of the Galaxy star revealed his initial attempts at bringing the iconic character’s voice to life were met with some criticism from the filmmakers. He said:
Tony Soprano is one of the most famous portrayals of an Italian American, so it makes a lot of sense that Chris Pratt felt inclined to go there (consciously or not). However, I’m not sure how fans would’ve felt about him channeling the New Jersey mobster while lending his vocals to the iconic video game character.
Charlie Day, who plays Luigi (one-half of the titular Mario Bros.) in the Illumination flick, revealed that he, too, had to adjust his voice during the recording process. According to the Always Sunny in Philadelphia star, his initial characterization was less The Sopranos but still very much in line with another popular take on gangsters. Day said:
Despite the obstacles both actors faced while finding their characters’ voices, they were able to land on the right balance of humor and warmth for their portrayals while jettisoning their initial instincts to employ New Jersey mobster accents. The Hollywood A-listers’ acting choices seem to resonate with long-time video game movie fans. Though the Nintendo adaptation has received mixed reviews from critics, it currently sits at a 96% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ review-aggregation website after 5000 verified ratings. That seems like a pretty apparent stamp of approval from Mario devotees.
While opinions on the film may be split amongst critics, The Super Mario Bros. Movie undeniably pays tribute to the gaming franchise on which it’s based as well as everything that Nintendo represents. Mario is filled with hundreds of subtle nods and references to the fictional universe and other classics from the video game company, making it a delightful treat for fans. And since its release, the complaints regarding Chris Pratt’s casting and voice have become noticeably quieter. Yet had he stuck with the Sopranos approach, it might have been a different story altogether.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now playing in theaters, so make sure to check your local listings for showtimes. Also, take a look at the schedule of 2023 new movie releases to plan your next cinematic experience.