Road to Wonder: part 4, tribute to Charles Martinet, voice of Mario

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With the imminent release of Super Mario Bros Wonder our “Road to” celebrates Charles Martinet before the heroes’ voices change forever

We could have finished Road to Wonder with one last “bizarre” game in the series Mariobut then we remembered that next Friday, the October 20thfor the first time the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom will no longer have the voices of Charles Martinet. For a few more days, therefore, Mario’s most recent title (or, technically, Sparks of Hope) will be the only one to remind us how a mild-mannered Californian actor brought an unmistakable stamp into our lives with his friendliness. The vocal chords of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi belong to this legendary voice actor, who will still remain “in the area” as brand promoter. But ahead of the changing of the guard in gaming, there’s no better time than now to celebrate it once again.

Panorama of Los Angeles | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

Compared to Super Mario Bros Wonder, we have to take several steps back: let’s go back to the beginning, that is, to the birth of Charles Andre Martinet. Came into the world on September 17, 1955 in San Jose, California, the voice actor boasts a mixed heritage. On his mother’s side, in fact, he is the most American there is: a direct descendant of the Mayflower pilgrims. His father, on the other hand, comes from a French family that immigrated during the First World War. Following his move to Barcelona at the age of twelve, Charles attended the American School of Paris and, after graduating in 1974, studied law at the University of Berkeley, California.

Road to Wonder: part 4, tribute to Charles Martinet, voice of Mario

“You try to have a world in your heart / and you can’t express it with words” | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

A problem stands between Martinet and the thesis: the glossofobia, that is, the terror of speaking in public. Which is why a friend, with far-sighted hindsight, convinced him to study acting. His first performance saw him grappling with a monologue from the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, better known to us with the musical adaptation by Fabrizio De Andrè (Non al moneta non all’amore nei al cielo). Trained through an apprenticeship at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Martinet honed his talent at the Drama Studio in London. Among his qualities, it is here that the actor discovered he had a particular affinity for accents and dialects. With his apprenticeship, he contributed to the founding of the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Road to Wonder: part 4, tribute to Charles Martinet, voice of Mario

World 1-1 | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

What is said in the video included with the tweet above, in reality, is not entirely accurate: it is not with Super Mario 64 that Charles Martinet began to lend his vocal chords to the mustache. In the 1991, received a call while he was on the beach. A friend told him there would be an audition where he would “talk to people as a plumber.” At his entrance Martinet, unaware of Mario and performances by the late wrestler “Captain” Lou Albano and Walker Boone (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!), asked about the character, then deviated from the raspy New York Italian voice in favor of something more suitable for little ones.

Road to Wonder: part 4, tribute to Charles Martinet, voice of Mario

The only one away from Lou Albano | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

Referring to his background shakespeariano, he adapted his voice for Gremio (The Taming of the Shrew) to the plumber. A flash of genius with which Martinet distinguished himself, to the point of being (against all his predictions) the only choice for Nintendo. His debut was with the official pinball by Mario (Gottlieb, 1992), and then refined the voice with Mario Teaches Typing (Interplay, 1994) on PC. Going back to 1991, the day after the audition the actor already played the character (outside of the videogame context) for the first time with the motion capture show Mario in Real Time, in south Pasadena. This is a tradition that will continue into the future with the actor’s role as ambassador.

Road to Wonder: part 4, tribute to Charles Martinet, voice of Mario

Mamma mia | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

The mainstream debut, and now we can say it, was rather with Super Mario 64. His skills as a histrionic improviser immediately established him as a definitive voice by Mario, to the detriment of the many interpretations seen up to that point. From short jump clips to unexpected murmurs during sleep (“Spaghetti, ravioli…”), the plumber’s personality has been elevated from a mere Mickey Mouse-style everyman to the embodiment of the player’s intrepid spirit of adventure. And from game to game, Mario’s vocabulary (between archived recordings and unreleased jokes) has expanded dramatically. Sometimes it happens that you hear older clips juxtaposed with much more recent ones (Mario Tennis Aces), but recycling aside, Charles’ vocal cords are always a guarantee.

In bed with the enemy | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

What you might not know, however, is how much prolific has become the voice actor over the years. Outside of the Mushroom Kingdom, players know him as the dragon Paarthurnax in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Another famous video game role is that of narrator in BIT.TRIP presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien and in the following, Runner3. Not only that, they are also there rival exclusives with his voice! In Ratchet & Clank: A Walk Through Time for PS3 he provided the voice of Orvus, Clank’s father (in English with a voice very similar to that of Mario; in Italian, dubbed by Pietro Ubaldi instead). Curiously, in Mad Dash Racing (for Xbox) instead played Ash the dragon and Spanx, but due to the vulgarity of the title (as well as the similarities between Ash’s voice and Luigi’s) he asked to not appear in the credits.

On the set | Road to Wonder: Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario

I extra-videogame roles they were not missed. Beyond some low-budget productions (like some commercials in which Charles starred, and we’re not joking, in the role of a rapper Dracula!), he is the voice of Senator Wilson Phillips in the OVA Stardust Crusaders, an adaptation of the homonymous narrative arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. His mainstream dubbing debut, however, was with Magenta, Commander Red’s son in the feature film Dragon Ball: Super Hero. At this point, we can only assume that once Charles Martinet hangs up his red cap he will be able to further expand his portfolio. Provided that his retirement is not a full-blown retirement, even if (if it is not obvious) we wish him the best regardless of his professional choices.

“Thank you so much for playing my game!”

Probably on day one of Super Mario Bros Wonder (next Friday, October 20th) we will repeat ourselves during the review phase, but from now on we would like to thank Charles Martinet for keeping us company over the last thirty years, with a role that in interviews he has always (verbatim) declared that he wants to play “as long as I’m alive”. However, as he aged, his unmistakable vocal timbre began to hold up less and less to Mario’s eternal and shrill youth. Which is why in a few days, in the end credits of Wonder, we will find out who is responsible for this colossal burden. And, as said in our incipit, before the passing of the baton we just wanted to recognize the impact of those who made the enthusiasm of his character their own to the point of welcoming with the cry of “Wa-hoo!” every challenge. Including that of his abandonment, which affects us as much as it does him.

Now it’s up to you to tell us your opinion: how do you think his (unenviable) successor will fare? Let us know below, and as always don’t forget to stay on for all the most important news for gamers and beyond. For your purely gaming needs, you can instead find the best discounts in digital format on Instant Gaming.