“It’s me, Mario!” Interview with Charles Martinet
Over the weekend, GWW spoke with Charles Martinet, the voice of Super Mario, at Wizard World Austin Comic Con.
Me: I love the energy you bring into a room. As soon as you walked in on the other side of the room, I heard your voice, looked at my wife and said “Whoa, that’s Mario!”
Charles: Of course, It’s always a pleasure.
Me: How are you doing?
Charles: Great. I am absolutely in love with Mario Maker. I was just in Killeen, Texas meeting with some wonderful troops and watching dads and moms play with their daughters and sons. It’s so great to be here in Austin Texas for Wizard World Comic Con. I’m glad I can be out here doing photos, autographs and a little bit of “Wahoo!” with everybody. Here we are, It’s Halloween weekend and it’s a perfect time for fun!
Me: I saw a video of you getting hands on with Mario Maker. I know you have done this for a long time but how does it feel to be playing the game and to hear yourself? Does it still have the same effect as it did 20 years ago?
Charles: Oh Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It’s great. I got to tell you, I watch these people play the games and play the levels and its incredible. The great thing is that creativity inspires creativity. This is just a piece of the wonderful fun of Mario Maker. You create with your friends then you inspire and critique each other. It’s really fantastic.
Me: My friends just use the game to give each other a hard time.
Charles: Hahaha, well I was in London when the game launched. They had a group of Nintendo guys that loved the games and we had this party. They made levels that were so hard they had to pass the controller around the room to get passed the first level, then the second and so on. It’s incredible. One Swiss guy made this level that looked like the most treacherous, terrifying level in the world and the key was you never move. You just stand there as Mario and the ground moves and eventually you make it to the end. I think it’s great because everybody can discover their own creative genius inside themselves. You also start learning where you want to put your tricks and start putting your personality in the level.
GWW: Sounds like you have put some time into the game.
Charles: Yeah, well I’m not really good at it. It’s an interesting challenge and only you know what the secret is to get there. It gives me a new found respect for people who make games. They do the hard work, I do the easy work. I just say “Here we go!”
GWW: How difficult is it to keep hush about upcoming games?
Charles: I think there is a tradition at Nintendo about loving surprise. You love to make players surprised to see something for the first time so my lips are sealed. I, too, love to see when people are like “Oh my goodness”. One of the first times I saw Super Mario Galaxy was at E3, and seeing Mario flying. I had goose bumps. Another example with Super Mario Brothers Wii, I remember doing that and thinking “Oh that was such a fun recording session”, then getting there and seeing it live with the music and instrumentals and dancing going on, it was just staggering. I still laugh when I play that game, it was so much fun.
Me: Going back in time a couple of decades, How did you become the voice of Mario?
Charles: Well I crashed an audition 25 years ago with my first consumer electronic show. That was awesome fun. I just crashed the addition, they said start talking and I didn’t stop until I heard stop talking. I was just making things up like “Oh, lets make pizza pie together, you go get this and I get this, Oh lets get lasagna, you are chasing me with lasagna.” I don’t think the producer thought I would keep going but I did.
Me: What was Nintendo shooting for that day?
Charles: I have no idea, they said make up a voice, make up a video game and start talking. It was for a real time animation system it was called MIRT. Mario in Real Time which is now what we call it. The technology was brand new, it had never been done. We have no idea if its going to work or not. So just make up a voice, make up a video game and i was just having so much fun I didn’t stop.
Me: How many characters in Super Mario are you the voice of?
Charles: Mario, Luigi, Waluigi, Wario, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi. Occasionally I forget about who I had voiced. Recently I played Super Mario Sunshine again, which is my favorite of the series, and I heard “Welcome to the Isle Delfino” then I was like Hey that’s me! I was also the voice of the natives on that game. It was so fun. It’s such a great gift. I love working with Nintendo. I wish for everyone to do what they love in life. Follow your heart, find what gives you joy and keep following that. It’s like falling in love, keep going for it. If you go for it, you may not find exactly what you think it’s going to look like, it’s there. I was going to be a lawyer living in England or Paris working for the government but I found happiness that didn’t look anything like that. So be happy and keep going for it.
GWW: Awesome. Thanks for chatting with us and I hope you have a wonderful time in Austin.
Charles: *In Mario Voice* Thank you and Thank you very much for playing my game!