“Lets-a go!”. “Yahoo!”. “Mamma mia!”. Remember those iconic quotes when studying Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet at school? No? Well, maybe if they had been in there I wouldn’t have fallen asleep so much trying to decipher all of the gibberish.
Apparently though, William Shakespeare was an inspiration of sorts for Charles Martinet, world-renowned for his voice talent in Mario games. Lending his voice to over 100 games, Martinet has voiced Mario since 1996 when he debuted in Super Mario 64 - claimed by many to be the greatest game of all time.
He shared his story about how he got the role in an interview with BBC.
He told me I was an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, so my instinct was to try a gruff and coarse voice – ‘hey you, get outta my face!’
What popped into my brain was a character I’d played in Taming Of The Shrew. I was Petruchio going back to get his wife in Italy, and I was a sort of ‘Mamma mia, nice ol’ Italian guy’. So I thought I’d do something like that. I went on and on about spaghetti and meatballs. After half an hour the producer said, ‘cut, stop, we’ve run out of tape!’ And he called Nintendo and said ‘I’ve found our Mario’. Mine was the only tape he sent back.
Eventually, Nintendo called me up and said, ‘Mr Miyamoto would like you to play the voice of Mario in a new game’, which was Mario 64.’
It’s such a profound honour. When I was in London for the launch of Mario Galaxy, this wonderful young man approached me and said – and I quote: ‘Mel Blanc [Bugs Bunny] was the voice of my father’s generation, you are the voice of mine.’
That’s not even the best part. Martinet also shared that every time he saw Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario’s creator, he would call out “papa!” to him. Does this also make PlayStation president Shuhei Yoshida a real-life Bowser to him?