News Article

Voice of Mario Was Inspired by a Shakespearean Character

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Yes, really

Younger gamers may think that Mario's always had a voice, gleefully exclaiming phrases such as "Wahoo" and "Yippee" for all time, along with the occasional sentence. The voice fits the character, and it seems like Mario wouldn't be the same without his famous catch-phrases.

It's easy to forget, then, that Super Mario 64 was the first video game appearance of Charles Martinet, who to this day is still the voice behind the moustache; the opening "it's-a-me, Mario" no doubt caught plenty off guard back in the day. The famous voice is now an irreplaceable part of the character, appearing in a lot of games.

In a short interview with the BBC, Martinet explained the origins of pitching for the role at trade shows, how he came up with the voice and the move into games.

He told me I was an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, so my instinct was to try a gruff and coarse voice - 'hey you, get outta my face!'

What popped into my brain was a character I'd played in Taming Of The Shrew. I was Petruchio going back to get his wife in Italy, and I was a sort of 'Mamma mia, nice ol' Italian guy'. So I thought I'd do something like that. I went on and on about spaghetti and meatballs. After half an hour the producer said, 'cut, stop, we've run out of tape!' And he called Nintendo and said 'I've found our Mario'. Mine was the only tape he sent back.

Eventually, Nintendo called me up and said, 'Mr Miyamoto would like you to play the voice of Mario in a new game', which was Mario 64.'

It's such a profound honour. When I was in London for the launch of Mario Galaxy, this wonderful young man approached me and said - and I quote: 'Mel Blanc [Bugs Bunny] was the voice of my father's generation, you are the voice of mine.'

Martinet also shared that, in the early days of speaking at trade shows with electrodes glued to his face (to animate a CG Mario), he would shout out "Papa" whenever he spotted Shigeru Miyamoto. What we'd give to see a video of that.

[via bbc.co.uk]

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User Comments (27)

Lost_Hope

#2

Lost_Hope said:

Actually, Martinet's first acting role as Mario in a videogame goes to the obscure PC game "Mario's Game Gallery" ( AKA "Mario's FUNdamentals").

Chunky_Droid

#3

Chunky_Droid said:

I remember him telling this story on Australian TV (Good Game) a couple of years back, it was a good story!

ajcismo

#4

ajcismo said:

I really like how the copy editor had to put in [Bugs Bunny] next to Mel Blanc's name for people who have no clue as to who he was. Dang I feel old. Mel was the original Seth MacFarlane or Billy West long before any of them, or us, were born.

Scarkaiser

#5

Scarkaiser said:

No offense to this guy, but I will always remember Lou Albano and Danny Wells when it comes to the voices of Mario and Luigi. I think their voices fit the characters perfectly.

I can't understand why so many are ashamed to admit they ever even watched The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, let alone like it. I, for one, remember the show fondly, and will always consider all the voice actors involved in the show to be the best any Mario character ever had. Period.

When I first played Mario 64, I was actually very startled by what Nintendo considered Mario to sound like. It took me a long time to get over it. Eventually other characters like Luigi, Toadstool, Toad, Bowser, etc. followed. I still love Nintendo and Mario. I guess I just tune out all the horrible voices at this point.

Waluigi no win this time

WanderFan91

#7

WanderFan91 said:

Charles Martinet has always done a good job voicing Mario :)
I never knew he was inspired by a character from Shakespeare

Samholy

#9

Samholy said:

always thought mario had a weird voice hahaha
not very manly, but hwo cares

Mario500

#12

Mario500 said:

@Lost_Hope
The excerpt from the article left out the part about 1990 being the year when Charles Martinet learned about the audition in which he would win the role of providing Mario's voice in video games and his attending trade exhibitions over a period of six years before he was told Shigeru Miyamoto wanted him to provide Mario's voice for Super Mario 64.

burninmylight

#13

burninmylight said:

@Scarkaiser

I remember that show fondly as well, but I think those guys were perfect as the voices of <i>that</i> era of Mario. I actually prefer Charles Martinet for the short yelps, grunts and exclamations we're used to, but if Mario was ever given a monologue, then Albano suddenly sounds better in my head.

burninmylight

#14

burninmylight said:

You want to know who is the voice of my generation? Steven Jay Blum ;). If you've been playing video games and watching anime, cartoons or even ad-supported television for a few years, it's impossible not to have heard his voice. See you, space cowboy...

Zombie_Barioth

#15

Zombie_Barioth said:

Mario yelling papa whenever Miyamoto walks by, I think we'd all like to see that.

Its always interesting to see the man behind the voices of your favorite characters, especially actors like Steven Blum or Tara Strong that have had so many roles. The fact that one man can have such an impact really says something.

@burninmylight So do I. I always view different iterations of a character as separate entities, but hearing Charles Martinet's version of Mario in a speaking role seems too weird to me.

FonistofCruxis

#16

FonistofCruxis said:

I knew that he originally thought of trying a gruff voice but I didn't know about him basing Mario's voice off a Shakspeare character. I'm glad he thought of that as he does a great job with Mario's voice.

Xiao_Pai

#17

Xiao_Pai said:

Anyways before I never knew he was the voice of Wario too. I guess that first bit was his Wario voice. :p

DaveGX

#18

DaveGX said:

@jNintendoNerd Funny you should mention Seth Mcfarlen because in all honesty, i like how that guy portrayed Mario's voice and not as high-pitchy Mario ever since Super Mario 64. I mean, maybe I'm a little crazy on this 1, but in all honesty I don't believe an Italian's (real) voice should sound like that with the exception of the accent. Though admittingly, I'm really not ashamed at all to say I was very much a fan of the Super Mario bros Super Show, plus everyone who voiced the characters back then.....I wouldn't've changed a thing about the voices there, either.

SMW

#19

SMW said:

I don't even know who this Seth Mcfarlen fellow is. I don't watch much TV aside from Nat Geo Wild. Either way, he can't possibly be as awesome as Charles Martinet!

Also lol at people who don't know Mel Blanc.

Xiao_Pai

#20

Xiao_Pai said:

@SMW: He's actually just as talented as Martinet. :p
He's the creator and a voice actor of Family Guy and American Dad. (and Ted)

DestinyMan

#21

DestinyMan said:

Cool, who knew Mario's voice was inspired by Shakespeare?

His gruff and coarse voice was more than likely given to Wario. Martinet's a talented guy; did you know he also voices Luigi, Waluigi, Toadsworth, and Baby Mario and Baby Luigi? He could alter his voice a lot!

Xiao_Pai

#22

Xiao_Pai said:

That reminds me...in some games Wario's voice seemed to be deeper like in Mario Kart and the Party games. But in games like back in Wario World and the WarioWare games his voice seemed higher pitched/whiny-ish...Was there another voice actor for him or something? I like the WarioWare version more. :p

DaveGX

#24

DaveGX said:

I don't really think the current voices match up the way they should, though. Whoever did the voice for Wario for the original GameBoy commercials (Super Mario Land 3, 4, etc) seemed to be just right for the type of character he is. Luigi? Meh, again I feel the voice from Super Mario Bros Super Show was more him than the current.

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