Chris Pratt as Mario Defended By Illumination CEO

Nintendo revealed a controversial lineup for its Mario movie in September 2021, but the biggest one that upset people was the casting of Chris Pratt as Mario. Speaking at CineEurope 2022 (from Variety), Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, a producer on the film, defended the choice to cast the Guardians of the Galaxy actor as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time.

“Chris was cast because we felt he could give a great performance as Mario,” he said. “And now that we’ve done about 15 recording sessions, and the movie is three-quarters done, I sit here and say that I love his performance as Mario.”

One of the biggest issues people had was that while Mario is Italian, Chris Pratt is not. The Illumination CEO, an Italian American, felt that he could approve of the casting choice due to his own heritage. This defense is the second time he had brought it up as he spoke to TooFab last year about the decision, stating that he understood the criticisms. He also promised the actor would not be saying the iconic line, “It’s a-me, Mario!”

What we know before we hear Chris Pratt as Mario

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Aaron Horvath (Teen Titans Go! To The Movies) and Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go!) direct the untitled animated film. Matthew Fogel (Minions: The Rise of Gru) penned the script.

A star-studded lineup will join Chris Pratt as Mario. It will star Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogan as Donkey Kong, and Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong. It will also feature Kevin Michael Richardson (Invincible), Sebastian Maniscalco (Green Book), and the original voice of Mario and Luigi, Charles Martinet.

Initially, Nintendo’s flagship characters would grace the big screen on December 21, 2022. Delays pushed it to April 7, 2023, in North America and April 28 in Japan.