John Leguizamo criticises 'backwards' casting of new Super Mario Bros. movie

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Super Mario Bros. star John Leguizamo isn't impressed with the "backwards" casting of voice actors for the new animated movie.

The Colombian actor rose to fame when he played Italian plumber Luigi alongside Bob Hoskins as Mario in 1993's live-action movie, which was based on Nintendo's video game series of the same name.

A new animated movie inspired by the games is due to be released next year, with Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as the voices of Mario and Luigi, and Leguizamo isn't impressed by the lack of diversity in the voice cast.

"I'm O.G. A lot of people love the original. 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," he told IndieWire. "I'm not bitter. It's unfortunate."

He added of his casting in the 1993 movie: "The 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. They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough. For them to go backwards and not cast another (actor of colour) kind of sucks."

The Super Mario Bros. Movie also features Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, and Keegan-Michael Key in major voice roles. It is scheduled to be released in April 2023.

Pratt defended his casting as Mario to Variety earlier this year, saying, "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... I'm providing a voice for an animated character, and it is updated and unlike anything you've heard in the Mario world before."