Charles Martinet, the beloved voice behind Nintendo's cheerful Italian plumber Mario, has retired. The 67-year-old has been delighting young gamers with catchphrases like "mama mia," "let's a-go," and "it's-a me" for over 25 years. Nintendo made the announcement in late August 2023.
"It's been a privilege working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years, and we want to thank and celebrate him," Nintendo said.
Before becoming Mario's official voice, Martinet was a professional actor who starred in several theater productions and corporate commercials. In 1990, a friend convinced him to crash an audition for a real-time animation system.
"I said, 'buddy, there's no way I would ever crash an audition. I'm a professional actor. Where should I go?'" he recalls. "And I don't know why. But I left the beach, and I went, and I crashed this audition."
Martinet was late and arrived at the studio just as the producer was leaving. Fortunately, he was allowed to audition for the voice of the Italian plumber from Brooklyn. The rest, as they say, is history!
While he began voicing Mario in 1991, it was the 1996 release of Super Mario 64 that made Martinet famous. The groundbreaking game was the first in the series to feature 3D gameplay. It sold over two million copies and made $140 million in the first three months after its debut in the US. Super Mario 64 was the best-selling video game of 1996 and the best-selling one overall from 1995 to 2002. Since its launch, almost 12 million copies of the video game have been sold worldwide.
While most famous for the title character, Martinet has also voiced Mario's brother, Luigi, and their rivals Wario and Waluigi. Martinet did not voice Mario in the 2022 blockbuster, Super Mario Bros. Movie. But he did have a brief role in the film as the voice of Mario and Luigi's father.
Though he is no longer the voice of Mario, Martinet's connection with the Italian plumber is far from over. He will now serve as the first-ever "Mario Ambassador." In his new role, Martinet will meet with Mario fans around the world, signing autographs and performing Nintendo character voices.
"My new adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart!" an excited Martinet tweeted.
Resources: USAtoday.com, thenationalnews.com, Nintendo of America