He voices one of the most iconic characters in global culture yet he could probably walk down the street and not receive a second glance from passers-by. He is Charles Martinet, the man behind the voice of Nintendo's Mario, and has lent his vocal chords to the world-famous plumber for the best part of two decades.
We got chance to speak to the great man at the recent EB Expo in Sydney, Australia.
Nintendo Life: Throughout the years you’ve voiced so many characters; do you have a personal favourite, which character most represents Charles Martinet?
Charles Martinet: I like to think Mario, I love the character so much, he’s so full of joy and optimism, and he faces challenges in life with a “Wahoo!”. Life’s an adventure, it’s a wonderful gift!
NL: The first time I ever heard your voice was in the movie Nine Months, where I believe you played Arnie the Dinosaur. How do those movie experiences differ from voicing video games?
(Charles immediately breaks into Arnie the Dinosaur’s voice and does some lines from the movie with supreme accuracy, despite not having played the character in well over 10 years.)
CM: With acting, each thing you do is so very different, with video games it’s just full on energy and joy, it comes up out of the ground with a “Yahoo!”, it’s big and beautiful. I love Mario so much, that character is marvellous and I love every Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. U absolutely thrills me when I see it, with Balloon Yoshi and the new suits and the HD on the Wii U, it’s all so exciting.
NL: I know what you mean about the HD, the first time I saw Mario in HD, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe! I guess it kind of blew my mind seeing Mario that clearly on TV.
CM: Me too! It’s so amazing how beautiful it is, now you can get a big massive flat screen and see it all as clear as a bell!
NL: A number of people are getting more well known for doing voices for video games, such as Nolan North and Jennifer Hale, do you think that voice actors do get the recognition they deserve?
CM: To be honest, it’s to each his own, personally I’m happy exactly where I am, it’s a selective fame that’s wonderful! It’s fun to be able to come to an expo such as EB Expo and Armageddon Expo, meeting the fans is so fun because we are all Mario fans! That’s what’s great about my position and I’m really happy with the level of recognition that I get, and at the same time I can walk down the street when I leave here, and I’m anonymous again! I think voice actors are really lucky that way.
NL: Following on from the past two questions, which other actors or characters do you admire within the games industry, past or present, does anybody inspire you in particular?
CM: I’ve always looked up to Mel Blanc growing up, I always thought that he was just the greatest voice actor ever, and what a thrill for him to just be given a blank slate and told to create the world of animation voice overs. He was a true genius.
NL: I feel lucky that I can be a part of a generation of people who grew up in the early years listening and watching Lou Albano as Mario, then spending their teenage years listening to Charles Martinet playing Mario; both portrayals seemed to fit the character perfectly, were you a fan of Lou’s work?
CM: I never got to meet that gentleman, I’m sorry to say. I did enjoy the series; I have watched it and I thought it was very sweet.
(Despite being wrapped up, he really wanted to give some advice out before the end of the interview)
CM: If you want to be an actor, voice over talent, graphic designer, create video games, absolutely do it! Just give yourself the permission to do it, pursue your heart, look for your destiny, make your passions grow, and do what you love so you can commit to happiness, be committed to expressing your world through your joy. That’s what comes with it: happiness, because life is a gift.
NL: Well thank you so much for your time Charles, it is very much appreciated.
Ninterviews are a series of interviews where we get to know interesting people with a passion for Nintendo. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for future Ninterviews. Click here to see the full series.