John Leguizamo has, many times over the years, taken sides over various with social issues manufactured in our society. This time, he’s aimed his criticism at the casting in Illumination’s upcoming The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Apparently he’s not happy about the lack of an “actor of color” as Mario, this time portrayed by Chris Pratt. During an interview with IndieWire, on the red-carpet for his latest movie The Menu, Leguizamo aired his grievances about the voice acting.
To be fair, Leguizamo is kind of close to the Mario Brothers franchise. Hs he played Luigi in the disastrous 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, opposite Bob Hoskin’s Mario. So, there’s at least that.
The actor recalled getting the role of Luigi,
“The directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton fought really hard for me to be the lead because I was a Latin man, and they [the studio] didn’t want me to be the lead. They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough. For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks.”
This isn’t the first time he’s made his feelings known about the casting of this new Super Mario Bros. movie. Not long after the announcement of it’s development, Leguizamo took to Twitter.
“So glad #superMariobros is getting a reboot! Obviously it’s iconic enuff. But too bad they went all white! No Latinx in the leads! Groundbreaking color-blind casting in original! Plus I’m the only one who knows how to make this movie work script wise!”
So glad #superMariobros is getting a reboot! Obviously it’s iconic enuff. But too bad they went all white! No Latinx in the leads! Groundbreaking color-blind casting in original! Plus I’m the only one who knows how to make this movie work script wise! pic.twitter.com/lNokmdpwMq
— John Leguizamo (@JohnLeguizamo) September 27, 2021
It sounds like the actor lets his ego go full tilt by the end of his rant, claiming he’s the only person that can make a Super Mario Bros. script work.
Of course, the movie is far from “all white.” in addition to Pratt, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser and Anya-Taylor Joy as Princess Peach, it also features a number of non-white actors. Including Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Khary Payton as the Penguin King and Eric Bauza in an as-of-yet unrevealed role.
Producer and Illumination Studios founder and CEO Chris Meledandri curbed any casting doubts over lead star Pratt and his lack of Italian ethnicity earlier this year, during the CineEurope convention via Deadline.
“We are collaborating with Chris and his experienced team to not just create a character-licensed film, but a new piece of entertainment which brings ‘Super Mario Bros.’ to life on the screen, and allows everyone to enjoy whether or not they know about the game,
When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should.
I’m not sure this is the smartest defense, but as a person who has Italian-American heritage, I feel I can make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian-Americans…I think we’re going to be just fine.”
Personally, from the trailer, Pratt seems like he’s phoning it in. I don’t see why they didn’t have Charles Martinet reprise his voice for Mario. Possibly because he’s slated for a voice role that’s not announced.
In the end, this whole race angle is an old professional victim hat that’s been worn thin.
The Super Mario Bros. movie is currently set to hit theaters on April 7th, 2023.