Chris Pratt Went Too ‘Tony Soprano’ with ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Italian Voice: ‘That’s a Little New Jersey’

Co-star Charlie Day added that producers thought he was going too "Goodfellas" as Luigi.
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie," James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in "The Sopranos"
"The Super Mario Bros. Movie," James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in "The Sopranos"

Chris Pratt went too pulp-y for his first try at the Mario voice.

The “Super Mario Bros. Movie” actor revealed that he was told his take on a stereotypical Italian-American voice bordered on a “Sopranos” parody.

“For a minute, I walked in and they were like, ‘That’s a little New Jersey. You’re doing a Tony Soprano thing,'” Pratt told Entertainment Weekly.

He continued, “It was a really exciting and daunting challenge. Talking to these guys, they say, ‘You wanna do the Mario movie?’ I think both of us said yes. Didn’t even ask, ‘What’s the deal? What’s the story?’ ‘Yes, I’m in.’ And then we had to really dig in and figure out, Are they Italian? Are they American? We know a little bit about Charles Martinet’s voice that he’s sprinkled in there with the ‘Wahoo!’ and ‘It’s-a me!’ and these Mario things, but how do you craft a 90-minute narrative with an emotional through-line and create a living, breathing person about who you’ll care?”

Co-star Charlie Day, who voices Mario’s brother Luigi, shared that his inspiration came instead from Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and that he was convinced that would be the best direction for the animated film.

“We tried different things, different voices,” Day said. “Every now and then they would say, ‘Charlie, maybe a little less Goodfellas in this one’ — I’m like, ‘Alright! I think you’re wrong, but fine!’ — until they landed on something they liked.”

The Super Mario Bros. Movie” producer and Illumination Studios founder and CEO Chris Meledandri curbed any casting doubts over the cast’s lack of Italian ethnicity prior to the film’s release.

“We are collaborating with Chris [Pratt] 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. “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.”

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