Mario Movie Director Defends Chris Pratt’s Casting Amid Backlash

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Chris Pratt, Mario Movie

While Chris Pratt's casting as Mario in Nintendo's The Super Mario Bros. Movie led to backlash from fans, directors Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath defended the MCU actor's involvement.

Super Mario Bros. is filled with an all-star cast, featuring the likes of Seth Rogen, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Charlie Day. However, Pratt's casting received mixed reactions due to the actor lending his voice to Mario, a character whose specific tenor has become iconic. 

Despite that, Super Mario Bros. producers acknowledged the backlash while also defending Pratt, saying that the actor's "Italian American heritage" helped him feel comfortable with the casting decision "without worrying about offending Italians or Italian Americans."

The Super Mario Bros. Directors Support Chris Pratt's Casting

Chris Pratt, Mario
Chris Pratt, Mario

In an interview with Total Film, via GamesRadar, The Super Mario Bros. Movie directors Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath talked about mixed fan reactions toward Chris Pratt's casting as Super Mario. 

Horvath said that the casting "made total sense," adding that he'll prove doubters wrong since the Marvel actor is "perfect" for the role: 

“For us, it made total sense. He’s really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart. For the way that Mario is characterised in our film, he’s perfect for it.”

Horvath then teased story details about The Super Mario Bros. Movie, noting that it is about "Mario becoming Super Mario:"

“It’s a bit of an origin tale. It’s the story of Mario becoming Super Mario.” 

It was also revealed that Mario and Luigi are plumbers in Brooklyn, with the directors describing them as “blue-collar guys… from a family of Italian immigrants” who create cheesy advertisements and find themselves warped to the Mushroom Kingdom. 

While plot details are being kept under wraps, the Super Mario filmmakers reportedly drew from 40 years of Mario adventures, with Horvath saying that Mario's never-give-up attitude being translated on-screen:

“When you play the game, if you don’t give up, Mario will succeed. So we transferred that player experience from the game to a characteristic that [movie] Mario would have.”

Why Chris Pratt’s Performance as Super Mario Could Redeem Him

The confidence of The Super Mario Bros. Movie directors and producers toward Chris Pratt's involvement in the film is a promising sign, especially considering the widespread backlash that the animated blockbuster has seen because of the actor's involvement. 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie director Aaron Horvath's remark about Mario being the perfect role for Pratt is valid when considering the actor's charisma and track record of playing a hero with "a ton of heart."

The Parks and Recreation star portrayed several iconic roles that fit the director's description, namely the MCU's Star-Lord, Jurassic World's Owen Grady, and The LEGO Movie's Emmett. 

Ultimately, Pratt has a solid chance of redeeming himself by showcasing an incredible portrayal in the movie that has the potential to prove detractors wrong. 

The Super Mario Bros Movie premieres in theaters on April 5, after having recently been moved forward two days.

- In This Article: The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Release Date
April 05, 2023
Anya Taylor-Joy
Charlie Day
Jack Black
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.