Anyone who has played a Super Mario game in the past decade has certainly heard the familiar "Woo-hoo!" of Charles Martinet, the voice behind some of Nintendo's most iconic characters. David Oxford over at Kombo recently had the opportunity to speak with him and learn the origin of all those seemingly random Italian exclamations.
Kombo: Okay, now a couple of weeks ago, on one of the Kombo podcasts you described how you got the part of Mario, can you briefly recap that for us?
Charles: Sure, that was a lot of fun. You know, I was... I think if I recall right, I was lying on a beach somewhere, when a friend of mine called and said "hey, you should go and audition for this Italian plumber for a trade show, you know?" and I said "Oh, I don't want to crash an audition, I've never crashed an audition in my life..." And of course, what do I do? I go anyway, and I knock on the door and open it up, and there's the producer there with the camera, and it's already put away, and I said "Can I just read for this?" and he said "Oh, alright. You're an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, you're gonna have these face-things on your face, and everything's gonna be glued on, and we don't even know if it's gonna work... but you're going to move your mouth and face, and this character is going to do the same thing. Now, he's an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, so do that... and make up a video game."
So long story short, it just popped into my head "Hello! It's-a me, Mario! Okie-dokie, let's make a pizza pie together! You get some sausage, and... *goes into whole pizza schpiel*" ...and I just, I don't know what I did, but I just kept talking and talking until the tape ran out, and they're just "Stop! Stop! Stop! The tape is gone! Thanks, we'll be in touch." Which, of course as you know is the kiss of death for an actor. But I walked out of the room, and he called up Don James and said "I found our Mario." And mine was the only tape that he sent, of the many, many tapes that he had made. So... yaaaay!
That was... 19 years ago, I think it's going on 20 years ago... *laughs* It's amazing how time flies.
Normally this is where I'd trot out my story about the time that I beat Charles at Mario Kart DS a few years ago, but I think we've all heard that one enough times. I really should get a fresh Charles Martinet story.