The man who originated the voice for Nintendo’s iconic mustachioed Mario character 30 years ago will soon step aside from his role in Mushroom Kingdom.
Nintendo confirmed that Charles Martinet, the original voice actor of the beloved Italian plumber, will no longer be recording the voice of the character he has played since the 1990s. The gaming company shared the news Monday on X, formerly Twitter, in a post saying that Martinet will instead now serve in the role of “Mario Ambassador” to fans around the world.
“It has been an honor working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years,” Nintendo said in a statement on X. “We want to thank and celebrate him.”
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The post also teased an upcoming special video message from Martinet and Nintendo executive Shigeru Miyamoto, who created the Mario series. The statement did not indicate why Martinet is stepping down or who would replace him as Mario’s voice.
When did Martinet begin voicing Mario?
While Martinet has voiced Mario since 1991, it was with the the release of Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 that most fans first became exposed to Martinet’s iconic Mario voice.
Released in 1996, the groundbreaking video game, in which Mario sets out to rescue the Princess Peach from the villainous Bowser, was the first in the Super Mario series to feature 3D gameplay in a large open world.
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The game was the first major Nintendo property to feature Martinet’s now oft-quoted catchphrases such as “mama mia,” “let’s a-go” and “it’s-a me,” all of which have come to define the world-recognized character as much as his signature red hat.
Since then, Martient has provided the voice in countless Mario games to not only the title hero, but other residents of the Mushroom Kingdom such as Mario’s brother Luigi and their rivals Wario and Waluigi. While Chris Pratt voiced Mario in the 2022 animated “Super Mario Bros. Movie,” Martinet did make a cameo as Mario’s father.
Now that Martinet is becoming a “Mario ambassador,” Nintendo said he will be traveling around the world to promote the beloved Italian plumber, signing autographs and performing Nintendo character voices. Martinet shared Nintendo’s post, saying “My new adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart!”
Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at email@example.com.