The voice behind the legendary Mario video game character is changing after nearly 30 years. Nintendo announced on August 21, 2023 that Charles Martinet, who has voiced Mario since the 1990s, is retiring from the iconic role.
Martinet brought Mario to life starting with Super Mario 64 and went on to voice the character in dozens of games over the decades. His vocal work spans Mario spinoff titles like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and more. Martinet has also given voice to other fan-favorite Nintendo characters including Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and Baby Mario.
According to Nintendo, Martinet will shift into a new position as a “Mario Ambassador.” While he will no longer portray Mario and friends in new games, he’ll make appearances and interact with fans as a representative of the Mario franchise.
The news follows some controversy earlier in 2023 when actor Chris Pratt was cast as Mario in Illumination’s upcoming Super Mario Bros. animated movie, rather than having Martinet reprise his signature role. Longtime fans expressed disappointment that the original voice of Mario would not be featured.
Martinet himself commented on the news via X, saying: “My new adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart! #woohoo !!!!!!!” He expressed excitement about connecting with fans in his new ambassador role.
For three decades, Martinet’s vocal talents helped bring Mario to life in players’ minds. His retirement marks the end of an era, though he’ll still engage with Mario fans worldwide as a brand ambassador. The search now begins for a new voice actor to carry on voicing the iconic plumber in future Nintendo games.
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