In news that may be somewhat upsetting for video game fans, Nintendo has announced that long-time Super Mario voice actor Charles Martinet is retiring from the role of the iconic princess-saving plumber after almost 30 years since he first voiced the beloved character.
“Charles Martinet has been the original voice of Mario in Nintendo games for a long time, as far as Super Mario 64,” Nintendo prefaced in a message directed at fans of the Super Mario Bros. series. “Charles is now moving into the brand-new role of Mario Ambassador.”
It continued, “With this transition, he will be stepping back from recording character voices for our games, but he’ll continue to travel the world sharing the joy of Mario and interacting with you all!”
“It has been an honor working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years and we want to thank and celebrate him,” Nintendo declared, promising, “Please keep an eye out for a special video message from Shigeru Miyamoto and Charles himself, which we will post at a future date.”
While Super Mario 64 may be Martinet’s first official outing as the iconic Brooklyn-native plumber, the charismatic voice actor is credited as the announcer, referee, and several boxers in Nintendo’s Super Punch Out!! from 1994.
The lesser known, and infamous, Mario’s Game Gallery, a compilation of Mario titles developed by Presage Software and published by Interplay Productions, is actually Martinet’s first time voicing the beloved Nintendo mascot.
Martinet also holds the Guinness Record for the “Most videogame voiceover performances as the same character” — voicing Mario a grand total of 100 times across several different Nintendo titles as of December, 2018.
At the time, Martinet recalled that a friend of his encouraged him to audition for a role that would eventually change his life.
“One day I was doing what actors do, [which is] sitting at the beach reading a book [and] waiting for the phone to ring or, in those days the pager to go off,” Martinet jokingly recalled.
“And sure enough, it was a friend of mine. He said, ‘Hey, you should go crash this audition. It’s for a real-time animation system,’ and I said, ‘There is absolutely no way I would ever crash an audition. I’m a professional actor… where do I go?'”
He went on, “And I have no idea why but I left the beach. I went to this audition. I walked in as the producer walked out the door and I said, ‘Can I read for this?’ And he literally had that moan of like ‘Ugh, gosh. Alright, alright, come inside. Look at the camera. You’re an Italian plumber from Brooklyn for this company called Nintendo, and the character’s name is Mario. Make up a voice, make up a video game. Start talking, and whenever you run out of things to say that’s your audition.'”
“I heard ‘action’ [and] I said, ‘Hello I’m-a Mario. Let’s make a pizza pie together. You go get some sausage, I’m-a gonna make some spaghetti, we’re gonna put spaghetti in the sauce and the pizza, and then I’m gonna chase you with the pizza, and if I catch you with the pizza, you gotta eat-a the pizza.'”
Martinet then recalled, “When I got that phone call, ‘Mr. Miyamoto would like you to be Mario in a game.’ Woo-hoo! Mario time!”
Mario is only one of the many Nintendo characters that Martinet has brought to life over the years. The upbeat voice actor has also been providing the voices of Mario’s younger brother Luigi, Baby Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi, as well as his one-time performance as Bowser in Super Mario 64.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie was the first time the iconic plumber was voiced by someone other than Martinet. While he did have a small role as Mario’s father and a character named Giuseppe, with Guardians of the Galaxy actor Chris Pratt providing the voice for the Brooklyn native hero.
Martinet himself addressed Nintendo’s announcement, retweeting the post and showing excitement over his new role as Mario Ambassador.
“My new adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart!” wrote Martinet, adding the Italian plumber’s iconic “Woo-hoo!” at the end for good measure.