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One of the directors of the upcoming film The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which is set to be released next month, is speaking out this week to defend star Chris Pratt from backlash over him playing the character of Mario.

Director Defends Pratt

Aaron Horvath, who directed the movie with Michael Jelenic, stood by the decision to cast Pratt. 

“For us, it made total sense,” Horvath told Total Film. “He’s really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a ton of heart. For the way that Mario is characterized in our film, he’s perfect for it.” 

Horvath went on to describe Mario and his brother Luigi, who is voiced by the “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” star Charlie Day, as Brooklyn-based plumbers who are “blue-collar guys… from a family of Italian immigrants.”  

Fox News reported that the backlash against Pratt started as soon as it was announced that he would be voicing Mario back in 2021. Some fans were livid that Pratt doesn’t come from Italian ancestry, as they felt that an Italian American should be voicing the role. Others felt that Charles Martinet, who has voiced Mario and Luigi in the Super Mario Bros. video games since 1992, should have been given the part over Pratt.

Related: Chris Pratt Blames Viral Beekeeper After He’s Stung In The Eye By A Bee – ‘F*** That Bee Lady’

Backlash Gets Worse

Things got even worse for Pratt when the first trailer for the movie came out in October of 2022, with many fans responding with outrage over his lack of an Italian accent while playing Mario. 

In June of last year, Pratt told Variety that the voice of Mario in the movie is “unlike anything you’ve heard.”

“I worked really closely with the directors and trying out a few things and landed on something that I’m really proud of and can’t wait for people to see and hear,” he said. 

“It’s an animated voiceover narrative. It’s not a live-action movie,” he explained. “I’m not going to be wearing a plumber suit running all over. I’m providing a voice for an animated character, and it is updated and unlike anything you’ve heard in the ‘Mario’ world before.”

After seeing the trailer, however, some fans felt that the voice Pratt used for Mario was too similar to his own. 

Related: Chris Pratt Honors Crew Member Of His Latest Movie Who Was Killed In Car Crash

John Leguizamo Slams Casting Choice

John Leguizamo, who played Luigi alongside Bob Hoskin’s Mario in the 1993 live action Super Mario Bros., spoke out last year to say that the new movie went “backwards” by having two white actors voice Mario and Luigi.

“I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original,” Leguizamo told IndieWire. “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.”

“My 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,” he 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.”

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is set to hit theaters on April 5. It remains to be seen how the backlash against Pratt will impact the box office for the movie. 

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