Super Mario Producer Defends Chris Pratt's Controversial Casting

Illumination producer and founder Chris Meledandri has addressed the backlash to Chris Pratt's casting in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. film.

In an interview with TooFab, Meledandri was asked about Pratt's casting as Mario. After praising the actor's voice work, Meledandri addressed backlash to Pratt's casting, particularly of him not having an Italian background. "Well, as an Italian American myself, I understand the comments. Charlie Day, who's playing Luigi, actually comes from Italian heritage. Yeah so that's our nod."

RELATED: Super Mario Bros. Animated Film Is 'Pretty Much Done,' Says Miyamoto

That outlet then asked how much Pratt and Day would lean into the "Italianness" of their characters. Meledandri explained that, while that would be part of the film, it wouldn't be a major component.

Produced by Illumination, which is behind the Despicable Me franchise, the upcoming animated movie based on Super Mario Bros. does not have an official title as of the time of writing. The movie's voice cast -- which also features Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad -- was announced in September.

Backlash to Pratt's casting began almost immediately. Critiques focused on a few different things, including Pratt's association with Hillsong Church, the choice not to use a professional voice actor, and Charles Martinet -- who has played Mario for the past 29 years -- having several cameos in the movie instead of a starring role. Later, Pratt was also subject to backlash on social media after being cast as Garfield in an animated film focusing on that classic comic strip character.

RELATED: Nintendo Plans To Turn More IPs Into Films, Says Super Mario Creator

The Mario franchise began in 1981 when the titular plumber -- at that point known as Jumpman -- appeared in Donkey Kong. Since then, Mario has become one of the most recognizable video game characters in the world, and games featuring him have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 1993, a live-action film called Super Mario Bros. released and failed critically as well as commercially at the box office. Following that failure, Nintendo avoided making another film starring Mario for decades.

Little is known about the plot of the Super Mario Bros. movie at this time. However, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has said the film is "pretty much done," and that there are plans to turn more Nintendo IPs into movies in the future.

Currently, the Super Mario Bros. movie is scheduled for release on Dec. 21, 2022. The project is directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic from a script by Matthew Fogel.

KEEP READING: Chris Pratt Teases His Super Mario Role With Hilarious Guardians of the Galaxy Edit

Source: TooFab

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