Former Super Mario Bros. Star Slams Reboot Casting

One of the actors from the original Super Mario Bros movie is not happy about the casting for the new one!

By Dylan Balde | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

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Luigi knows a Mario brother when he sees one and Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as the eponymous plumber duo ain’t it, or so actor John Leguizamo claims. The Broadway star, who played the chicken-livered Luigi in Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel’s live-action Super Mario Bros.: The Movie, bemoans the glaring lack of Latino representation in Universal’s new Mario adaptation in a recent Twitter post, despite the brothers being Italian and Princess Peach a standard blonde and blue-eyed belle (Or that Mario’s rotating cast of goofy antagonists are non-human monsters with no perceived ethnicity). Regardless, Leguizamo blasts the upcoming animated feature for being too white and suggests an urgent change in screenwriters. Leguizamo volunteers himself, despite not having penned either Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! — the only two Mario movies to exist before Pratt and Day’s version.

See John Leguizamo relive the past in a Tuesday tweet on the upcoming Super Mario Bros. film:

Universal Pictures announced Chris Pratt and Charlie Day’s involvement in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie during last Thursday’s Nintendo Direct. Pratt and Day as Mario and Luigi, respectively, are joined by Anna Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, and Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike. Charles Martinet, who has voiced both Mario and Luigi in every single game since 1985’s Super Mario Bros., returns for some surprise cameos. Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic of Teen Titans Go! fame are directing the film based on a script by Matthew Fogel. John Leguizamo wasn’t consulted on the project, while the Mario actor — Bob Hoskins — passed away in 2014. Feast your eyes on last week’s announcement video below:

Though the casting choices are decidedly whiter than expected, John Leguizamo wasn’t entirely on point with his observations on the new Super Mario Bros. Anna Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit) is of Argentine descent. Fred Armisen’s (Portlandia) mother was born in Venezuela. Keegan-Michael Key (The Prom!) and Kevin Michael Richardson (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) are proud African-Americans. And though Sebastian Maniscalco isn’t a Mario brother, he’s playing a similarly bearded colleague and is indeed Italian. So, some attempt at representation was achieved. Unfortunately, such careful consideration has so far been effectively eclipsed by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day’s more high-profile castings; Pratt in particular has received significant criticism on social media for taking over from Martinet, who is still perfectly adept at playing both brothers and didn’t need recasting.

Though fans respect John Leguizamo’s take on Luigi, and recognize his portrayal as significant to the character’s eventual foray into the supernatural, his reinstatement isn’t a particularly popular opinion. The original Super Mario Bros. adaptation is still widely regarded as the worst video game movie of all-time, an association Leguizamo isn’t bound to shake off soon. To add fuel to fire, Matthew Fogel’s upcoming Super Mario Bros. is a computer-animated flick by in-house studio Illumination, so really, it matters little who’s behind the camera — especially when the general exterior remains the same.

A new Super Mario Bros. movie didn’t originally appeal to creator Shigeru Miyamoto. John Leguizamo may regard his time as Luigi behind rose-tinted glasses, but fact is, his and Bob Hoskins’s take set the franchise back half a decade when it released to poor reviews in 1993 — and Miyamoto hasn’t forgotten. He held off from reselling movie rights to the next available distributor for 27 years precisely because. Fate practically intervened four years ago when Miyamoto was in the United States discussing the possibility of Mario-themed attractions with Universal; he met Illumination founder Chris Meledandri by chance and talks kicked off from there. Meledandri and Miyamoto are executive producing the film together. The new animated Super Mario Bros., not starring John Leguizamo, hits theaters on December 21, 2022.