At CineEurope in Barcelona, Illumination CEO and founder Chris Meledandri discussed Minions: The Rise of Gru, but more interestingly to our audience, he also discussed Chris Pratt voicing Mario in the Super Mario movie. Via Deadline, the Illumination CEO commented on how some of have noted that Mario, an Italian American fictional character, is being voiced by non-Italian American Chris Pratt. Meledandri believes people are not going to mind the difference once they hear Pratt’s performance.
“When people hear Chris Pratt’s performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should,” said Meledandri. He 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.”
Personally, being half Italian myself, I don’t care that Pratt isn’t Italian American either. I do care that he and the rest of the weirdly star-studded cast give performances that fit these iconic characters though, and the jury is still out on that. However, Charlie Day (who apparently does have some Italian in him, if you were wondering) is an inspired choice to voice Luigi, and he has previously joked that Nintendo would break his neck if he spoke about the script.
The Super Mario movie will release in the United States next April, and then we will find out how Chris Pratt handles the most famous fictional Italian American that isn’t Rocky. In the meantime, Meledandri has reiterated how important the relationship between Illumination and Nintendo is: “Nintendo is one of the companies we respect and hold in high esteem; this collaboration I think is unprecedented in its closeness.”