Super Mario Movie voices

Super Mario Bros. Movie voice actors talk bringing iconic characters to life

By Olivia Richman

|

Apr 8, 2023

Reading time: 5 min

DreamHack may have some big esports tournaments, but this year’s San Diego DreamHack was also an ode to the Mario fandom. The huge esports event even had a showing of the new Super Mario Bros. Movie, including a panel with some of the voice actors beforehand.

While many people think of Seth Rogen or Chris Pratt when they think of the voices behind the Mario Bros. Movie, there are also a handful of trained voice actors bringing the cast of characters to life. This includes Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, Eric Bauza as Toad General, and Jessica DiCicco as Mario’s mother.

“Nostalgia will always win,” said Bauza during the panel. “If you think about the past three to four years, the good memories kept us bound together. Something like [The Super Mario Bros. Movie] could only happen in 2023.”

Win.gg spoke with Richardson, Bauza, and DiCicco after the panel to find out more about the importance of the voices behind iconic Nintendo characters on the big screen.

How was it being at DreamHack in front of all these Nintendo fans?

DiCicco: It’s been very exciting so far. It was very cool to introduce the film. It’s probably the first time many people are seeing it.

Bauza: To be here in San Diego celebrating video game fandoms and interacting with the fans is always nice.

Richardson: It’s wonderful to have the reminder that Nintendo’s Mario is still going strong after all these years. To see kids of kids from my generation just being here… It’s very nice.

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How did it feel to be part of something so iconic?

DiCicco: So proud. I can’t even believe it. I feel the only reason they booked me for this is because of my Italian last name. DiCicco finally helped me to be Mario’s mom authentically.

Bauza: My last name is Bauza, but everyone’s been calling me Bowser all my life… Maybe that’s why. Being able to work with Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, the co-directors… I’ve worked with them in animation, and it’s great to see them come into their own as big-time directors now.

Richardson: It’s very cool to be a part of this. Especially playing the game with my niece… To see it after all these years and be a part of it… The reward itself is right there.

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What is your opinion on animation studios going with celebrity voice actors for a lot of key roles in their films? The Super Mario Movie seemed to have a blend of actors and professional voice actors.

DiCicco: As long as the celebrity they chose is the right person for the part, and they’re not casting that person just for their name, then I’m okay with it. Pixar is really good at doing that, booking the right celebrity. I feel Illumination did a great job with casting as well. Everybody was perfect.

Bauza: There are certain celebrities out there that get it and can put on a different character and embody them. One of the best examples for me is Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, played by Bradley Cooper. it’s amazing to me that I had to look it up and see who is voicing that character. When you’re in a character and disguising yourself, that’s when it works for me.

Richardson: I’m open to it as well as you can bring the goods, whether you’re known or unknown. If you’re not enjoying yourself while recording the character, the audience will hear that.

How did you guys get into voice acting?

DiCicco: We each have an interesting way in. I grew up acting in New York on camera, and it turned into voice-over work when I moved to Los Angeles because this is where it lived. I auditioned for this part in Dumbo II in college and tricked Disney casting into thinking I was a real kid. I spoke in my regular voice during the callback, and he told me to come to LA after I graduated from school, which I did. It happened quickly from that point on.

Bauza: I started out in animation as an artist. I found out about this thing called scratch dialogue recording, where you voice a character that is later replaced by a voice actor or celebrity. Jessica DiCicco is who led me to get my first agent in the United States.

Richardson: I’ve been doing voices for cartoons since I was a kid, bringing my tape recorder and acting out my favorite cartoon characters like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. During recess, I’d play it back for my friends, acting out the scenes. I have been doing characters since I was little.

Once I found out you can make a living doing that, I nagged my agency to send me out for a year. Things snowballed from there.

How did you come up with the voice for your characters, bringing them to life on the big screen? Some of these characters have been in the games. How did you come up with your own take on them?

DiCicco: They showed me the image [of Mario’s mom], and I came up with something on the spot.

Bauza: It was definitely a combination of working with Michael and Illumination, and Nintendo to carve out what they thought was suitable for the Toad General specifically. He’s just a very serious guy with a very serious message to deliver. They said they didn’t want a cartoony voice. We want something like Michael Ironside. Something terrifying!

Richardson: I had no idea what I was going to do. Luckily the first voice that came out of me they liked. So I stuck with that! Peter Lorre is what I used as an inspiration for that.

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