Back in late September, the main cast of Illumination’s animated Super Mario Bros. movie was announced, and arguably the biggest surprise was that Chris Pratt had been selected to play Mario himself. To say reaction to this casting choice was mixed would be an understatement, with many feeling that the Guardians of the Galaxy actor is not the right fit to voice Nintendo’s famous Koopa and Goomba-stomping plumber. Now Illumination president Chris Meledandri, who’s a producer on the Super Mario Bros. movie, has responded to this backlash.

After describing the voice that Chris Pratt will use for his take on Mario as “phenomenal,” here’s what Chris Meledandri had to say to TooFab about the concerns that the actor’s take on the character’s over-the-top accent could be problematic:

Well, as an Italian American myself, I understand. You know, I understand the comments. Charlie Day, who’s playing Luigi, actually comes from Italian heritage. Yeah so that’s our nod.

Chris Meledandri added that Mario’s ridiculous accent would be nodded to in the Super Mario Bros. movie, but more importantly, that Chris Pratt wouldn’t leaning too heavily on the “It’s a me, Mario”-like delivery, with the producer saying that’s not “the tenor of the performance throughout the film.” While Pratt is certainly no stranger to voice acting, with his resume in that area including The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and Onward (as well as an upcoming turn as the lasagna-loving Garfield), there’s been been concern over whether he was the right choice for Mario, who’s been chiefly voiced by Charles Martinet in the video games since 1992.

Why Chris Pratt’s Mario Casting Is Being Met With Backlash

As already noted, the main reason Chris Pratt’s casting as Mario has been met with puzzlement, if not outright criticism, is because they just can’t envision him delivering a proper performance as one of the most popular characters in video game history. The actor not being Italian certainly bothers some people, but it ultimately boils down to worry about if Pratt’s Mario will come across sounding foolish, potentially veering into offensive. There were even calls on social media for Danny DeVito, an actor who is of Italian descent, to replace Pratt, but Chris Meledandri is confident that once Super Mario Bros. comes out, Pratt’s Mario will win people over.

Along with Chris Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as Luigi, Super Mario Bros’ cast includes Anya 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, Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike and Charles Martinet in some yet-to-be-revealed cameo roles. Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies fame are directing the animated feature, and Minions: The Rise of Gru’s Matthew Fogel wrote the script.

Super Mario Bros. is currently slated to open in U.S. theaters on December 21, 2022. Before then, you can see Chris Pratt reprising Owen Grady in Jurassic World Dominion next June, followed by Star-Lord in Thor: Love and Thunder the following month. Look through our 2022 release schedule to discover what other movies will come out next year.

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