Italian dad Sebastian Maniscalco auditioned for Mario voice role using stereotypical accent

·2-min read

Remember when a corner of the internet was mad about Chris Pratt playing Mario in the Super Mario Bros. movie? So does Sebastian Maniscalco, the Italian American comedian who revealed he initially auditioned for the lead role in the animated feature while using the stereotypical accent often associated with the beloved video game character.

"How did you not get the Mario role?" Mark Consuelos asked Maniscalco on Friday's episode of Live With Kelly & Mark, on which the actor appeared to promote his new movie with Robert De Niro, About My Father.

"Everybody was like, 'How come they didn't cast an Italian American for the role?' So, I read for Mario, and I went in there and I did the whole, 'It's a'me, Mario!' and they said, 'We're going to give you Spike,'" the 49-year-old said of trying out for the part that eventually went to Pratt. "Apparently that didn't work out. So, um, it was great be part of that movie, the thing's a juggernaut, and Chris did a great job."

Sebastian Maniscalco, 'Super Mario Bros.' movie, and Chris Pratt
Sebastian Maniscalco, 'Super Mario Bros.' movie, and Chris Pratt

Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images; Nintendo and Universal Studios; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Sebastian Maniscalco, 'Super Mario Bros.' movie, and Chris Pratt

Producer Chris Meledandri defended Pratt's take on Mario in an interview before the film's release, after fans took issue with casting a non-Italian in the role.

"When people hear Chris Pratt's performance, the criticism will evaporate, maybe not entirely — people love to voice opinions, as they should," Meledandri said in June 2022 (per Deadline) at the CineEurope convention. "I'm not sure this is the smartest defense, but as a person who has Italian-American heritage, I feel I can make that decision without worrying about offending Italians or Italian Americans... I think we're going to be just fine."

Maniscalco's Super Mario Bros. movie — which has grossed nearly $1.3 billion globally — and About My Father are now playing in theaters.

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