Super Mario Bros. Actor Defends Chris Pratt From Criticism

Khary Payton of The Walking Dead fame, who voices Penguin King in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, is stepping up to defend Chris Pratt.

By Douglas Helm | Published

The Super Mario Bros. Movie actor Khary Payton recently spoke to Insider and took some time to defend co-star Chris Pratt from the Internet backlash to Pratt’s Mario accent. Payton explained, “people always overreact online,” before adding his opinion on Pratt’s take, saying “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.” While overall reactions to The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer were positive, fans took umbrage with Pratt’s voice work (and Mario’s butt.)

Khary Payton, on the other hand, became a quick fan-favorite after The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer. Payton played the Penguin King who was brave enough to stand up to Jack Black’s Bowser when he invaded his icy kingdom. This scene takes up the bulk of The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer before Chris Pratt’s Mario comes in at the end and gives two brief lines of dialogue.

In The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer, you can really only hear Chris Pratt’s accent in his second line of dialogue. As Payton mentions, you can tell it’s a sort of New York/New Jersey accent, which some people have even compared to Bradley Cooper’s voice for Rocket Raccoon. It’s a pretty stark contrast to the more stereotypical Italian, high-pitched Mario voice that fans know from long-time Mario voice actor Charles Martinet.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is a full-length film, however, so Chris Pratt’s take may be more palatable over the course of a few hours than a high-pitched Mario. Still, fans have pointed out that some of the dubbed international versions of the film have a more video-game-accurate Mario voice, so maybe fans would prefer that after all. In either case, the movie is coming out with Chris Pratt in the lead, whether fans like it or not.

chris pratt super mario movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser, Anya-Taylor Joy as Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Keegan Michael-Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Khary Payton as Penguin King, and Charles Martinet in an undisclosed cameo. Along with Payton’s Penguin King, fans were instantly enamored with Jack Black’s take on Bowser and Keegan Michael-Key’s Toad. We even got a tease of Charlie Day’s Luigi in a post-trailer stinger, though we didn’t hear any lines of dialogue.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie, like the games, will feature Chris Pratt’s Mario going up against Bowser. There aren’t too many details about the plot other than that, but judging by the trailer it seems like this might be the first time Mario is visiting the Mushroom Kingdom. Frankly, the trailer looks visually amazing and, so far, there have been far more good voice performances from the actors than bad performances.

It’s also worth mentioning that The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer only has those aforementioned two lines of dialogue from Chris Pratt. Maybe fans will be surprised and actually enjoy his overall performance and his Mario accent when the movie comes out and we get to hear more of it. You can find out when The Super Mario Bros. Movie comes to theaters on April 7, 2023.