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Chris Pratt’s Italian ‘Super Mario’ Voice Will ‘Be Just Fine’ Despite Backlash, Says Producer

The upcoming Universal film ignited outrage over Pratt's portrayal of Mario and Charlie Day's of Luigi because neither is Italian.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA - JUNE 06: American actor Chris Pratt arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere Of Universal Pictures' 'Jurassic World Dominion' held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on June 6, 2022 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Chris Pratt

Sipa USA via AP

Rest assured, Chris Pratt’s Nintendo debut will be “just fine.”

After the Internet was sent into a frenzy following the casting announcement of Pratt as Mario and Charlie Day as Luigi for upcoming Universal and Nintendo animated film “Super Mario Bros.,” producer and Illumination Studios founder and CEO Chris Meledandri curbed any criticisms.

“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,” Meledandri said during the CineEurope convention via Deadline. “When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should.”

Meledandri continued, “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.”

The release date for the video-game adaptation, which also stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, was also pushed back to April 7, 2023, from an original December 2022 premiere. Meledandri called the project “unlike any film Illumination has made to date.”

“The production so far is constructive and going very well, and both parties are learning a lot from each other,” Nintendo representative director Shigeru Miyamoto added of working with Universal and Illumination. “We humbly ask that fans wait just a little longer for the premiere, and we hope they look forward to seeing the unique characters from ‘Super Mario Bros.’ on the big screen.”

“Super Mario Bros.” is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, both “Teen Titans Go!” alums. The screenplay is written by Matthew Fogel, who penned “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

Producer Meledandri previously told TooFab in November 2021 that he could “understand the comments” about Pratt’s appropriation of Mario’s exaggerated Italian persona. “We cover it in the movie, so you’ll see we definitely nod to that,” Meledandri explained of the accent, clarifying, “That’s not the tenor of the performance throughout the film.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” star Pratt teased in an Instagram video that he’s been “working hard” on the accent for the cartoon character’s famous catchphrases like “it’s-a-me, Mario!” Pratt formerly voiced animated characters in “Onward” and “The LEGO Movie.”

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