Chris Pratt on How He Found the Right Voice for Mario in ‘Super Mario Bros.’
Mar 29, 2023
How do you step into the shoes of arguably one of pop culture’s most iconic video game characters? That very challenge is the big boss that Chris Pratt and Charlie Day had to face off with in Universal Pictures’ The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While Illumination and Nintendo joined forces to tackle the candy-colored world-building, it was up to Pratt and Day to find the essence of the beloved Goomba-stomping duo, Mario and Luigi.
In the upcoming action-packed adventure, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is taking audiences down the pipe alongside the plumbing brothers, and giving us a brand-new look at the expansive universe from Rainbow Road to Donkey Kong Country. When Luigi (Day) becomes an ensnared victim of Bowser’s (Jack Black) relentless attempts to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario (Pratt) teams up with the mysterious world’s residents including Keegan-Michael Key’s Toad and the Mushroom Kingdom ruler, Princess Peach voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, to take Bowser down and save his brother. All of our favorite friends and foes come alive in Mario’s quest to become Super Mario!
Leading up to The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s April 5th release, Collider’s Perri Nemiroff got the chance to chat with Pratt and Day about the process of finding their voices as two of the most widely-recognized video game characters of all time. During the conversation, the pair also pinpoints their real-life Mario Bro., and Pratt shares what corner of the Jurassic Park realm he’d like to see the franchise explore next.
For all of this and more, check out the full interview in the video above or you can read the transcript below.
Image via Illumination
PERRI NEMIROFF: Our production notes focus a lot on the fact that you tried out different voices for these characters while trying to find the right one. To give us a sense of how much you were able to play with that, can you each tell me the two most polar opposite ideas that you explored while trying to find the voices for these characters before settling on what we see in the finished film?
CHARLIE DAY: I mean, entirely in French. I was like, ‘Illumination, you’re in France. Why don’t I do this all in French?’ And they said, ‘Do you speak French?’ I said, ‘Not really.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s not gonna work for us.’
CHRIS PRATT: Yeah. ‘But that’s not gonna stop me from doing a super stereotypical French accent.’
DAY: I said, ‘It sounds French-ish,’ and they said, ‘Are you saying a French accent?’ I’m like, ‘No, some French-ish words like, ‘[speaks gibberish in a French-ish accent].’ And they’re like, ‘You know, no one’s gonna know what that is.’
Image via Illumination
I speak French-ish, so I would’ve gotten it.
DAY: Yeah, you would have gotten it. ‘Yeah, Mario, [more French-ish gibberish].’ And then they shot that one down.
PRATT: Yeah, they shot that right down. Gosh, I don’t know that I had big, wide choices that were all that different than what ended up. It was a little bit more, you know, slightly nuanced the differences. We tried a few different things and then, ultimately, it took probably three or four sessions before settling on what worked. And once we had that figured out, I’d get to the session, they would play back the hit list of like the 15 or 20 phrases that they had that were like, ‘This is the voice, this is where we want it to be.’ And so once we did that, it would be like a little tuning horn. Is what they’re called? Tuning horn?
DAY: Yeah, a fork. Tuning fork.
PRATT: He grew up in a musical family.
This is probably the most serious question you’re gonna hear all day, but one of my favorite parts of this movie was how Luigi is there to support Mario’s goals and ambitions when others will not. So in your careers, who is your Luigi, the person who, if you have a big, crazy dream or idea in this business, is always there to get behind it and help you with it?
PRATT: Oh, wow. My real brother in my real life was definitely that for me. He’s always believed in me, always thought that I was gonna go and do extraordinary things. Even when I didn’t have belief in myself, he would be the one who’s like, ‘You’re cut out for this. You’re meant to do this, you’re special, you have it, trust me, you can do this.’ So, he was always that guy who — unrelenting love.
DAY: That’s my wife for me. I directed this movie, Fool’s Paradise – coming out May 12th – and I think she should have a producer credit on it because every decision I would constantly be like, ‘What do you think about this? And what do you think about that,’ for many, many years in the making of that. So, yeah, she’s been a good partner in that regard.
Here’s my one selfish question during this interview because, Chris, I’m obsessed with Jurassic Park. I know you said that franchise has come to an end for you, but having been in that world for so long, if they were to make another movie or a show, whether you’re involved or not, is there any particular corner of that world that you would like to see further explored, or perhaps explored for the first time?
PRATT: Wow, that’s such a great question. I would say, just given the advent of what we can now do underwater, I’m curious to see more about the Mosasaur. I thought that dinosaur was a wonderful creature, but I’d be curious a little bit more about the life of that fabulous creature. Maybe some more underwater dinosaurs.
You know, one time James Gunn gave me a pitch, and he was like, ‘What about cavemen?’ Isn’t there a caveman version of the Jurassic thing where a caveman — like the remake of Iceman or something like that where maybe the DNA they extract is — I don’t know.
DAY: Yeah, it’s called Encino Man! And I saw that movie!
PRATT: Anyways, that’s when I knew that he was never gonna go anywhere with his career [Laughs].
Image via Illumination Entertainment
I would watch an Encino Man / Jurassic mash-up any day.
PRATT: Wouldn’t that be so good?
DAY: Jurassic Encino Man.
And bring Brendan Fraser back!
PRATT: And Pauly Shore!
The Super Mario Bros. Movie hits theaters on April 5th. In the meantime, stay tuned to Collider for more from Perri’s interviews with the rest of the cast. You can check out the final trailer below.
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