The voice of Mario is “stepping back” from the role after 27 years as the Nintendo character, the Japanese game company has announced.
Charles Martinet, 67, was the original voice of the Italian plumber, starting with the 1996 instalment Super Mario 64. He also provided other voices in the game series including Mario’s twin brother Luigi and the villainous Wario and Waluigi.
In statement released on Monday on Twitter, recently rebranded as X, Nintendo said: “Charles is now moving into the brand-new role of Mario ambassador. With this transition, he will be stepping back from recording character voices for our games, but he’ll continue to travel the world sharing the joy of Mario and interacting with you all!
“It has been an honour working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years and we want to thank and celebrate him.
“Please keep an eye out for a special video message from Shigeru Miyamoto and Charles himself, which we will post at a future date.”
Martinet wrote: “My new Adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart! Woohoo!!!!!!!”
The announcement came after fans began to speculate online that the American actor had been replaced as Mario for the upcoming game Super Mario Bros Wonder, with some noticing that the character’s voice sounded different in promotional videos. Nintendo has confirmed that Martinet did not voice Mario in the new game, but is yet to reveal who the new voice is.
Martinet once said that he based his voice for Mario on Petruchio, a character from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.
“I want to voice Mario until I drop dead,” he once said, during a 2021 game convention. “If some day I think I am no longer capable of doing it, I will tell Nintendo to look into finding someone else.”
Martinet did not voice Mario in the 2023 animated film The Super Mario Bros Movie. Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt voiced the title character, opposite It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia actor Charlie Day as Luigi. But Martinet did voice two minor characters, including the brothers’ father, in the film, which grossed more than $1.357bn (£1.06bn, A$2.11bn) worldwide and became the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time.
Martinet has also voiced characters in games including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time.