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John Leguizamo calls lack of diversity in Mario movie casting 'unfortunate'

Not just taking issue with the casting of Chris Pratt, the Luigi star believes the lack of persons of color in leading roles on the Mario movie was a step backwards.

Image via Hollywood Pictures

John Leguizamo has some opinions on the new Mario Bros. movie, especially regarding its casting. The original Super Mario Bros. movie, for all of the disaster that it was at the time of its release, has garnered a cult fandom over the years. A major part of that is the talents of the late Bob Hoskins and Leguizamo in the roles of Mario and Luigi. Leguizamo is happy with his work in the film, and it has left him with reservations about the new Mario Bros. movie.

Leguizamo shared some thoughts on The Super Mario Bros. Movie in a recent chat with IndieWire, where he expressed his disappointment with the movie’s casting. However, it goes well beyond the much criticized Chris Pratt as Mario.

“I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original,” Leguizamo explained. “I did Comic-Con in New York and in Baltimore, and everyone’s like, ‘No, no, we love the old one, the original.’ They’re not feeling the new one. I’m not bitter. It’s unfortunate.”

Toad in the 2023 Super Mario Bros. Movie
One of the few persons of color in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is Keegan-Michael Key in the role of Toad.
Source: Universal Pictures

Leguizamo went on to share the crux of his disappointment: the casting. The former Luigi actor says that his casting for the role in the 1993 Mario Bros. film was hard-fought breakthrough and the new castings without persons of color in the leading roles are disappointing.

“The directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton fought really hard for me to be the lead because I was a Latin man, and they [the studio] didn’t want me to be the lead,” Leguizamo continued. “They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough. For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks.”

It’s worth noting that Keegan-Michael Key plays Toad in the movie and it seems as though he’ll have a prominent role in its runtime if the trailer was any indication. He even has a song he was allowed to improvise for the film. Kevin Michael Richardson also plays Kamek. That said, those are arguably supporting roles and Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, and Jack Black as Bowser seems to be where Leguizamo’s qualms lay. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is set to come out in April 2023. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story for further updates.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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