Former Luigi Actor John Leguizamo Calls Out “Backwards” Casting for Chris Pratt’s Super Mario Bros. Movie

"For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks"

John Leguizamo Chris Pratt Super Mario Bros backwards casting
Chris Pratt as Mario (Nintendo) and John Leguizamo (photo by David Shankbone)

    Count John Leguizamo among the people who aren’t happy about the casting in Chris Pratt’s upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie. In a recent interview with IndieWire, the actor — who played Luigi in the 1993 live-action film — expressed his disappointment at the decision to not cast another actor of color in his role. Instead, Charlie Day will step into his role of Luigi in the upcoming animated film.

    “I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original,” Leguizamo told IndieWire. “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. I’m not bitter. It’s unfortunate.”

    Leguizamo continued by recalling how the directors pushed for him to be cast in the 1993 Super Mario Bros. 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,” he said. “They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough. For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks.”


    This isn’t the first time Leguizamo has called out casting in the remake. In October, he posted a since-deleted tweet saying he was glad the “iconic” movie was getting a reboot, but expressed his disappointment in the “all white” cast. “No Latinx in the leads!” he wrote. “Groundbreaking colour-blind casting in original! Plus I’m the only one who knows how to make this movie work script-wise!”

    In August, Leguizamo also criticized the casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro, writing, “How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers!” He’s also opened up about staying out of the sun in the past in a deliberate effort to make booking roles easier as a “light-skinned” Latino.

    The Super Mario Bros. Movie is set to land in theaters on April 7th, 2023. The cast also features Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser. Revisit the teaser trailer here.

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