From Nintendo and Illumination comes a new animated film based on the world of Super Mario Bros.
Starring Chris Pratt (voice of Mario), Charlie Day (voice of Luigi), Jack Black (voice of Bowser), Seth Rogan and many more stars, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is one for fans of the games and all of the family to see.
Thanks to Universal Studios, STG was able to have a virtual chat with Chris Pratt about the film, games and his character, Mario.
Shane: Hey Chris, great to be able to chat to you again. What appealed to you about the opportunity to play Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie?
Chris: Yes, it’s been too long! So, I signed up to be Mario before I fully knew the entire idea, which was nice because I was able to be part of the collaborative process of fleshing out the story. We knew we were going to go to the Mushroom Kingdom, but I think the details of exactly what would happen were all sort of wet cement that was still hardening as I signed up. So, I was thrilled to be Mario. It’s awesome to be part of this project.
Shane: What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Chris: I thought, “Wow, that’s great!” I was given the script incrementally, and I thought it was a fantastic take on the Super Mario universe.
Shane: Were you a fan of the game?
Chris: Super Mario Bros. is the best-selling video game around the world, and I was one of the hundreds of millions of people who have played it. I was nine years old when we got the Nintendo Entertainment System at home, and I also used to play the arcade game at a dry cleaner by my house. I was absolutely obsessed!
Shane: So, was this project a dream come true for you then?
Chris: Yes, this is one of those moments. What’s interesting is that there was a wishing well in my town, and I think that one of my wishes came true when I became Mario. Maybe I slipped and hit my head at the wishing well, and this whole life has been a dream that I am about to wake up from. That would be crazy…
Shane: There is something magical about the game.
Chris: I believed in magic as a young person, and I still do. And there was certainly magic in the game of Mario. A quarter was a lot of money for me when I was a kid because we were pretty broke most of the time; but if I found a quarter or if I could scratch together two dimes and a nickel, I was right off to play Mario, and it was magic for me. Everyone’s got that nostalgic moment in their childhood that they hold on to. And, you know, I think Super Mario Bros. is that nostalgic moment for a lot of people across many generations because there have been so many iterations of the game.
Shane: Who is Mario in your eyes?
Chris: Mario is a wide-eyed dreamer who’s devoted to his brother and his family, and I really like. That was me. I was a bit of a wide-eyed dreamer myself, very close with my own brother; although I think back in the day, I was maybe more like Luigi. But I’m Mario now.
Shane: What do you like about him?
Chris: Who doesn’t love a guy that never gives up? I love a guy that faces insurmountable odds and says, “Bring it on!” And his loyalty to his brother, his desire to please his father, and the idea that he wants to do something bigger than what he’s been doing are all very relatable aspects of his personality that drew me to the character. There are many elements of Mario that I think people will identify with, whether it’s his sense of justice or his willingness and perseverance to keep trying, feeling like the little guy that got an unfair shake.
Shane: Can you talk about his journey in this story?
Chris: He wants to save Brooklyn through low prices and friendly service, but little does he know he will be given an opportunity to do just that.
Shane: Do you have a favorite moment in the movie?
Chris: I really love what we do at the beginning of the film. You’ll see this commercial that Mario and Luigi have spent their life savings cutting together, which is for their plumbing business. It’s how we meet the characters.
Shane: What would you say you have in common with Mario? And how are you different?
Chris: I think that our spirits are similar. I’m tall and he’s short, so in that way we’re different. And he has a better mustache than me. Even when I grow my mustache, it’s not as robust as Mario’s. He’s handy, and I’m handy as well, but I probably wouldn’t be able to start a plumbing business. We both desperately want to impress our fathers and our families, and we’re dreamers. We also both stepped out of comfort zone to chase a dream (albeit acting, 20 years ago, for me). At the time, it was scary to become an actor, and there were enough people in my life who ridiculed it to make me periodically question whether or not it was the right idea. So, I think Mario and I have that in common too.
Shane: So, you are good at fixing things too?
Chris: Yes, I can fix things around the house. My father was a remodeling contractor and put my brother and I to work for him. So, there’s little things like sheetrock, patching holes in the wall and replacing light fixtures that I can do. I’m good with tools.
Shane: Who is the Luigi to you in real life?
Chris: Well, I guess my brother is kind of in a way. We’ve always traded back and forth who’s Mario and who’s Luigi through the course of our lives. In any case, I’d say he’s certainly the one that I would want to defend and whom I’m so close to that feels like the Mario-Luigi relationship.
Shane: In the video games, the character of Mario was introduced through Donkey Kong.
Chris: Yes, Mario was introduced in the Donkey Kong video game; but in this cinematic world of Mario, the character of Donkey Kong is introduced through The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and we get to see a lot of Kong’s kingdom. They are an automobile-loving race of apes living in the Jungle Kingdom, and if Mario can beat Donkey Kong, then they’re going to get Kong’s army to face Bowser. Kong is strong, and he is funny. He’s got a wicked laugh and, despite constantly prodding and poking at Mario, ultimately has Mario’s back.
Shane: What does Mario bring to the table?
Chris: Mario has gumption, drive, confidence, and some pretty sick skills – especially when he gets to power up.
Shane: How is Princess Peach in the movie?
Chris: Peach is pretty much a total badass, and she has an entire army. She’s incredibly agile and a great driver. Princess Peach is just kind of flawless – which is sort of annoying, to be honest.
Shane: And what can you say of Toad?
Chris: Toad is knowledge. He has sage wisdom and advice and familiarity with the world of the Mushroom Kingdom. He’s a defender of the toads, and he’s hilarious. Toad brings the laughs.
Shane: We will see them all now like never before in one of the most anticipated films of the year: The Super Mario Bros. Movie. What do you believe makes Illumination such a unique animation studio?
Chris: Illumination is a great name for the company because it carries a light and polishes each of its projects until they truly shine. They have an amazing team of animators and collaborators that all have an incredible vision. With animation, you polish and polish and polish until something is perfect. It’s very different to live action, where you are kind of married to whatever you capture in the camera; but with animation, you can continue to work until it’s perfect. And what Illumination have is that steadfast dedication to just sticking to a vision and adhering to very high expectations for themselves.
Shane: Nintendo, a true powerhouse in the gaming world, has managed to create these truly beloved and enduring characters.
Chris: Yes, they started it all, and these characters are the cornerstone. If you had a Nintendo at your house, it was because you wanted to play Mario. And that, of course, spawned off into so many other games and has brought trillions of hours of joy to countless children. But it all started with Super Mario Bros., and they’ve endured because that game is the goat. It’s the original. And, you know, there’s nothing like your first time.
Shane: Illumination and Nintendo have formed a great team.
Chris: They are two giants that have come together and formed a super band. They are like the dream team: the very best of the very best in two different mediums coming together to create something. It’s incredible, and it seems unprecedented. In fact, I can’t think of the goats of each of their mediums coming together in a way like this ever before. There is going to be a certain synergy and magic, and you’ll see it when you watch the movie. I have a feeling this is not the last time you’re going to see a Super Mario Bros. movie, and that it’s also not the last time you are going to see a Nintendo and Illumination collaboration. I believe this is just the beginning.
Shane: So, what did you think of the finished film when you finally saw it?
Chris: I loved it! Actually, I cried because I was so proud of it. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is funny, beautiful, has a lot of heart and touches on all the nostalgia. I’m very excited about it. It’s fantastic!
Shane: And what have you learned about Mario through this whole experience?
Chris: I’ve learned stuff that you can’t learn playing the game, as it’s two different mediums. So, there is a lot of discovery and creation in the story of Mario here. We kind of know who Mario is, because with the game he is whoever’s playing the character and has the controller in their hand. When you play the game, he’s a guy named Mario who’s in the Mushroom Kingdom and you don’t really know why. Here you learn that he is a little guy from Brooklyn who’s got a brother and has started his own business. He invested his life savings in a stupid commercial that his whole family makes fun of him for, and he’s desperate. Mario wants to do something big and be somebody special, which happens when he gets sucked into this magic world. So, I learned a lot and helped discover and even be part of the collaborative force creating what his real story is. Mario is beloved by fans all over the world, and I definitely wanted to do the character justice. I did a lot of research about the history of the franchise, the games and the character, and I hope that comes across on screen. I also wanted to make sure that the character appeals to fans of all ages and backgrounds, and even to those who aren’t as familiar with the games. I hope that everyone who sees the film has as much fun watching it as we had making it.
You can see The Super Mario Bros. Movie in cinemas from April 5th, 2023.