The new animated reboot of Super Mario Bros. seems to be rather disappointing for some beloved household names. John Leguizamo, the Colombian-born actor who played Luigi in the 1993 live-action film, was particularly disappointed with the all-white casting for the upcoming The Super Mario Bros Movie.
At The Menu premiere in New York, Leguizamo admitted, via IndieWire, that the upcoming animated feature film is “going backwards.” The movie, set to be released in 2023, will contain the voices of Chris Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as Luigi. Both actors are white, and neither is of Italian descent.
Leguizamo recalled the struggles he had to face in the original 1993 film, admitting “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.” He continued, “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.”
The actor also admitted that while attending Comic-Con in New York, he crossed paths with fans who were equally as disappointed in the new installment, just as much as he was.
“I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original. I did Comic-Con in New York and in Baltimore, and everyone’s like, ‘No, no, we love the old one, the original.’ They’re not feeling the new one, I’m not bitter. It’s unfortunate.”
During the CineEurope convention via Deadline, the producer and CEO of Illumination Studios, Chris Meledandri also voiced his opinion on the decision to cast Chris Pratt, who is of no Italian descent, as Mario, saying “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.”
Joining the upcoming film is also Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Roen as Donkey Kong, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and Anya Taylor-Joy voicing Princess Peach. Taylor-Joy is of Hispanic and Latino descent, growing up in Buenos Aires with Spanish as her native language, while Princess Peach is ethnically Mushroom Kingdomer. Michael-Key is also biracial.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie animated adaptation is coming to theaters on April 7, 2023.