Seth Rogen Calls Evan Goldberg the Luigi to His Mario
Mar 29, 2023
One of the key players in Universal Pictures’ The Super Mario Bros. Movie is also one of Nintendo’s earliest video game creations, Donkey Kong, voiced in the film by buddy comedy king, Seth Rogen. Rogen tells Collider’s Perri Nemiroff that the gorilla was pitched as “kind of a showboat” who’s dealing with his own insecurities when Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, enlists Donkey Kong’s help to track down his brother, Luigi (Charlie Day).
In the highly-anticipated adaptation of one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises, The Super Mario Bros. Movie finds Mario in a mysterious, magical world separated from his brother. When Luigi is captured by Bowser (Jack Black) who, once again, is dead set on conquering the realm, Mario joins forces with the Mushroom Kingdom ruler, Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy), to train up and face off with Bowser and his minions. In order to prepare for the final battle, Mario takes on challenging new landscapes, utilizes power-ups, and hones his skills with competitors like Donkey Kong.
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Before grabbing your tickets for The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s release on April 5th, check out Perri’s interview with Rogen, which you can watch in the video above or read in transcript form below. During the conversation, Rogen walks her through the recording process for animated features and pinpoints what he’d most like to explore in a Donkey Kong spinoff film. Rogen also reveals who he considers his own Luigi, the person who’s always there to back him up no matter how big and wild his dreams are.
Image via Illumination
PERRI NEMIROFF: I’m always curious to hear about how far you can push it with improvising while making an animated movie when there are so many departments and artists involved. To get a sense of that, can you tell me a little bit about the very first version of Donkey Kong you were pitched and how that evolved and wound up being what we see now in the finished film?
SETH ROGEN: With animated movies, honestly, often you’re rarely even given a full script for some reason. I don’t know why because there always is one. They just don’t give it to the actors. And I’ve made them, and they’re like, “Should we give the actors the script?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “We don’t usually do this.” I’m like, “Just give it to them!”
So you kind of are pitched it. I think the original description was that he was kind of really seeking his father’s attention and kind of a showboat. Maybe those were some of the words used. And yeah, it seemed funny, but mostly the world seemed impressive and it seemed like they were gonna actually make a version of this that was exciting for fans, as opposed to the first version that I saw as an 11-year-old that was not exciting for fans. [Laughs]
Then you’re alone in a room like this with a microphone, and they animate after you’ve recorded. So you record and you try tons of stuff. It’s you alone in a room basically, and so there’s really very little pressure on time and whether or not everything is good or working because it’s a relatively inexpensive way to capture performance in comparison to some of the other ways we capture performance in this job. And so you can get a lot of material and then they take it and they edit it together into like a radio play essentially, and then they take that and they animate it. But yeah, I was alone completely on this movie. That’s not always how it is, but this one I literally never saw another actor, so I was like a crazy person alone in a room just screaming at myself [Laughs].
Image via Universal Pictures
I’ve read the rumors that Donkey Kong could get a spinoff movie. If you do get the opportunity to do that, is there any particular corner of Donkey Kong’s world or personality that you hope the movie explores most?
ROGEN: I don’t know. I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity there. I think the family unit of the Kongs seems to be — and if the Fast and Furious films have taught us anything it’s that it’s all about family.
An animated Fast and Furious movie. I love it.
ROGEN: Exactly! They’ve got those go-karts. There’s a lot of crossover.
One of my favorite parts of this movie is how Luigi is there to support Mario’s goals and ambitions even when others won’t. In your career, who is your Luigi? In this wild industry when you have a really big dream or idea, who is always there to back you up on it?
ROGEN: I’m lucky because I have a partner. His name is Evan Goldberg. We’ve worked together since we were twelve, since that first movie came out. And having a partner, honestly, is invaluable to me. We do that both to each other. And when one doesn’t think an idea is great, the other often helps bring it there. And sometimes we both think an idea is bad, and we’re right. But I think just having someone there to bounce off of and to kind of really be there with you along the way, to me, has been very valuable. And I’ve seen a lot of writers who don’t have partners and how much harder it is, honestly, and how much that kind of built-in support system is helpful.
I should have guessed you would have gone for Evan. An excellent duo that I love seeing flourish in this business.
ROGEN: He kind of looks like Luigi, too. [Laughs]
For even more on The Super Mario Bros. Movie before it hits theaters on April 5, check out Perri’s interview with Chris Pratt and Charlie Day below.
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