Super Mario Bros. Actor Defends Chris Pratt’s Controversial Accent Following Fan Backlash


From the moment it was announced that Chris Pratt is voicing Mario in Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie, that casting decision has been embroiled in controversy. Many people piped in on social media to share their belief that Pratt wasn’t the right actor to voice the Nintendo icon, and that backlash hasn’t died down since we got a quick taste of Pratt’s Mario voice in the first trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Now Khary Payton, one of Pratt’s co-stars, is coming to the Guardians of the Galaxy actor’s defense over the controversial accent.

Khary Payton, whose major credits include voicing DC Comics superhero Cyborg for two decades and playing King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead, is participating in The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the Penguin King, who we saw in the trailer order an unsuccessful snowball attack against Jack Black’s Bowser and his army. While speaking with Insider about The Walking Dead’s final episodes, Payton shared that he thinks the people who dislike Chris Pratt’s Mario voice are going overboard with their criticism, saying:

People always overreact online… I actually think that he’s doing kind of like this New York, Italian guy — like a cousin of The Sopranos or something, which, I think, is kind of a fun take on it rather than being, ‘It’s a me, a Mario.’

For most of his existence, Charles Martinet has voiced Mario in the video games with an exaggerated Italian accent, but as Khary Payton pointed out, and can somewhat made out in The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer, Chris Pratt went with a more New York/Italian mix for his take on the character. Payton is on board with this version of Mario, adding that Pratt’s version might “be more interesting and updated” compared to the Mario voice people have gotten used to for decades. We’ll have to wait until the next trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie to get a better gauge on Pratt’s Mario voice, but for now, Payton likes what the actor is bringing to the table.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is Khary Payton’s second collaboration with directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, who previously helmed 2018’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. The movie’s voice cast also includes Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Eric Bauza in an undisclosed role and the aforementioned Charles Martinet making “surprise cameos.” Matthew Fogel, who previously wrote fellow Illumination feature Minions: The Rise of Gru, penned The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s screenplay.

Among the other things we know about The Super Mario Bros. Movie is that it hits theaters on April 7, 2023. After seeing it, then the masses can make a fully-formed opinion on whether Chris Pratt was the right fit for Mario or not. Be sure to look through the other 2023 new movie releases so you can plan your visits to the theater next year accordingly.

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