Ever since the first trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie dropped at New York Comic Con last fall, Nintendo fans have been expressing serious issues with Chris Pratt stepping into the role of the video game giant's mustachioed mascot. Specifically, they've been concerned about his speaking voice, which is a far cry from Italian-accented line readings like "It's-a me, Mario!" and "Let's-a go!" everyone knows and loves from Nintendo's deep bench of Super Mario games.
But the Guardians of the Galaxy star feels that once they see the highly-anticipated animated movie, those concerns will vanish into one of the many dungeons within Bowser's Castle. "There were certainly discussions of how best to voice the character," Pratt tells Yahoo Entertainment. "We tried a lot of different things and ultimately settled on the voice that you hear when you watch the movie. I'm really happy with it, and I think people are gonna really enjoy it."
In the video game realm, voice actor Charles Martinet has provided the "Woo-hoos!" for both Mario and his green overall-wearing brother, Luigi, for decades now. And fans can rest assured that Martinet has several roles in the movie, most notably as the Mario siblings's father — one of the rare times we've seen Papa Mario depicted onscreen. And it's worth noting that Martinet doesn't simply repeat his video game voice in that particular role, either, instead crafting a version that reflects the vocal performances given by Pratt and Charlie Day, who voices Luigi.
Pratt credits Super Mario Bros. Movie directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic with guiding their performances across a two-year span of recording sessions. "You throw a bunch of different stuff at the wall, and then they come back and go, 'Hey, listen to this. This is a compilation of stuff that you did that we think is close to where we want it to be. Let's work in this area.' At least for me, we did an audio reference pass at the beginning of every session where they were adding stuff and taking stuff away. They were determining how the voice would sound right up until the end."
For his part, Day says that his take on Luigi spans a wide range of influences, from his own Italian heritage to his childhood in both New York City and Providence, R.I. "Knowing so many of those different accents, some are thicker than others," the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star explains. "I would try versions that sounded a little more Providence than Brooklyn, but [Aaron and Michael] would steer me towards what they wanted. I enjoyed getting to do [those versions], but was happy with whatever direction they wanted to go."
Born and raised in Minnesota, Pratt lacks the Brooklyn upbringing that his onscreen brother can boast about. But he says that he tried to channel some of the borough's favorite sons when he stepped up to the mic to record his Mario voice. "I had a few [actors] I was aiming at, but if I say them out loud, it could potentially affect people's ability to watch the performance," Pratt says. "So I won't say it, but I had a signpost."
Day agrees that he occasionally channeled classic Brooklyn personalities while in the recording booth as well. "There are a couple of movies and character actors that your mind goes to when you think great Brooklyn accents. I think I would slip into those sometimes, but [the directors] would go 'Hey maybe give us a little bit less of this iconic Italian actor and a little more Charlie.'"
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is playing in theaters now.