After 32 years of portraying numerous lovable Nintendo mascots, voice actor Charles Martinet is stepping away from his role as Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi and more. While a replacement actor is seemingly already on the payroll, there’s certainly other actors who could take the spot.
While it may be easy to recast just one of Martinet’s iconic roles, could one actor possibly cover every one of the actor’s beloved high-pitched characters? It’s possible, but Nintendo isn’t saying, smartly not revealing who will replace Martinet until fans hear their voice for the first time.
With this in mind, we’ve gone for a slightly more expensive method for the Big N: a different voice actor for each character. No longer will one incredibly talented person give us a range of iconic characters, but which actors could take on these roles?
Mario - Danny DeVito
The modern version of Mario is known for his high-pitched, joyful charm, but with a move on from Charles Martinet, we think it’s time for a drastic change. We’ve already seen Sonic fans rip similar-sounding voice actors apart for slight differences in tone with their speedy blue hedgehog.
With this in mind, we think Nintendo should finally expose Mario’s gruff, manly side, bringing back the working man vibe seen in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and there’s no one manlier than Danny DeVito.
Once pegged to play the iconic plumber in live action, DeVito’s iconic voice has the phlegmy cadence we can expect from a short, stout man in overalls. Focus ever-so-slightly and you can hear it right now, “It’s-a-me, Mario!” in DeVito’s beautiful voice that’s more than suited for a plumber.
Either that, or Ron Jeremy.
Luigi - John Leguizamo
Mario’s slender green brother is known for one thing: fear. The star of Luigi’s Mansion, the green plumber’s “M-m-m-m-maaaarioooo” has echoed in gamers’ minds for decades. With that in mind, only one person could replace Martinet in the role, someone who is just as terrified of being Luigi as Luigi is terrified of everything else — John Leguizamo.
Known nowadays for his role as Bruno in Encanto, Leguizamo also played the iconic Mario plumber alongside Bob Hoskins in 1993’s Super Mario Bros movie, and he had a horrible time. In his 2006 autobiography — Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas — the actor revealed that he absolutely hated working on the film. In fact, production on the original Super Mario Bros. movie was so rough that Leguizamo spent large portions of it absolutely wasted.
With this in mind, returning to the role of Luigi would be perfect for Leguizamo. If we ever needed to hear the Mushroom Kingdom’s queer icon absolutely terrified, we’ve got it right here.
Waluigi - Willem DaFoe
Misery, misery, misery, it’s time to give Waluigi more of a spotlight in the Mario universe. With Martinet’s departure from the role, Nintendo has an opportunity to turn Waluigi into the evil gremlin we know he can be, and there’s no one better than Green Goblin actor Willem DaFoe.
Another iconic voice, DaFoe’s vocals have the potential to truly embrace the inner menace that Waluigi has been holding back for years. If you think taking over the world with the power of dance was bad, the future could be even more maniacal with DaFoe as the lanky purple villain.
From his delightful cackle as Spider-Man’s Green Goblin to his maniacally insane performance as Thomas Wake from The Lighthouse, we need a Waluigi that can go full on goblin mode. And how fun would it be to have a Waluigi that has hung dong on camera?
Wario - Wallace Shawn
The brilliant voice behind Star Trek’s lovingly disgusting Grand Nagus, who else would be better to portray Mario’s money-hungry evil counterpart? If anyone could ever bring the same grungy gravitas to the chonky yellow-and-purple scam artist, it would be the voice behind the leader of the Ferengi.
Wallace Shawn has an incredibly memorable voice, but one that’s perfectly suited for any of Mario’s evil counterparts. From his first “Quaaaark, it’s meeeee!” in Deep Space 9 to his dough-brained performance as Rex in Toy Story, Wallace is a great fit for the Mushroom Kingdom.
At the end of the day, no one can truly replace the joy that Charles Martinet has brought to the Mario franchise over his three-decade long stint as numerous characters. Yes, other voice actors will do a fine, if not great, job as the iconic characters Martinet has voiced for years, but Martinet will always be remembered as the heart that brought life to these characters.
Furthermore, Nintendo has obviously already recast Martinet’s roles for the upcoming Super Mario Wonder, which features both Mario and Luigi. The upcoming WarioWare game also features the company’s new Wario voice actor. With the Nintendo Switch 2 on the way, this will be the first generation to not have Martinet as the mascot for Nintendo’s hardware since the SNES.
Nevertheless, the still-alive Martinet will always be my Mario. I grew up with him for my entire life, how could he not be?