Celebrity Actors Hired for Publicity are Replacing Trained Voice Actors at a Growing Rate


Photo provided by Nintendo

The Mario Movie has received a diverse reaction from critics and audiences alike, with some praising the story and some calling it lackluster compared to the games. It’s possible that Chris Pratt starring as Mario changed many audience members’ viewing experiences for the worse.

Haley DiFruscio, Writer

  In a special Nintendo press release on October 6, 2022, the company released the first trailer for the new “Super Mario Bros. Movie” with Chris Pratt as its leading man. The internet’s reaction was critical to say the least. One TikTok user called @crispy reacted by saying,  “…the whole movie is going to be ruined by that. I’m so looking forward to this movie but I just can’t get past that.” Many fans seemed to agree at the time, but now that the movie is actually in theaters, the reception from audiences has been mostly positive. So what’s the deal with celebrity voice actors? They don’t automatically ruin a movie, but there is something to be said for the consequences they could have on the film industry.

  Stepping back from Chris Pratt, the movie as a whole has a main cast full of celebrities with Jack Black as Bowser, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, and more. Despite this, Pratt has received almost all of the backlash for his casting. Nick Rion, a sophomore and major Nintendo fan said, “I feel like everyone else cares about the movie more. Chris Pratt’s kind of just there taking up space.” Looking at promotional material, you can see where everyone’s coming from. Other actors have shown their Mario pride in interviews, with their red carpet wardrobes, and in the effort they’ve put into their performances.

  To be fair to Pratt, Seth Rogen seems to be putting a similar lack of effort into his role of Donkey Kong. He flat-out admitted in an interview with Comicbooks.com that, “I don’t do voices. And if you want me to be in this movie, it’s gonna sound like me and that’s it.” This is a large contrast to the years of training that voice actors go through to perform their very best in their roles.

  Celebrity casting choices can have much broader implications than a singular movie. Voice actors are regularly underpaid and underappreciated by studios. Long-time Mario fans seemed less upset that Pratt is starring, and more upset that long-time voice actors in the game franchise like Charles Martinet are getting passed up for stunt casts. A similar trend has been playing out for animated movies for years, with the talents of voice actors going overlooked, and serious voiceover work becoming less and less.

  The good news is that “The Mario Bros. Movie” has been received well by the general public. Although he hasn’t seen the movie, Millbrook’s animation teacher Mr. Franzen said, “…It wasn’t what I expected the Mario voice to sound like. I don’t think this will have any effect on how much I enjoy the movie though. I plan on seeing it no matter what…it has that nostalgia feeling for me.” So if Mario holds a special place in your heart, the movie seems to be worth a shot. As for the impacts of celebrity voices on the film industry, it’s something that’s been happening since “Aladdin” in 1992. As the issue gains more traction with the general public, hopefully studios will be able to appreciate the incredible work of voice actors as much as audiences.