Meet the Voice Behind ‘It’s-a Me, Mario!’

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The year was 1990, and a guy named Charles Martinet was about to lay down what would become a career-defining audition—at the last possible second, on the last available bit of tape. The gig at stake was a video game for Nintendo, neither of which he knew much about. The California native was a classically trained actor with a slew of theater, film and TV credits to his name. But six rather un-Shakespearean words were about to change his life forever: “You’re an Italian plumber from Brooklyn.”

After voicing Mario, Wario, Luigi and a few appearances as Donkey Kong, Martinet has over 200 video games to his name—not to mention more than 75 plays, over 500 corporate videos for the likes of Apple and IBM, and feature films roles alongside Jon Voight, Tom Arnold, Michael Douglas and Hugh Grant. (You’ve heard of them, right?) He’s also voiced the Cat and Yertle the Turtle of “The Cat in the Hat” fame, among roughly 100 other cartoon characters.

Martinet speaks fluent French and Spanish, but over 25 years as the mustachioed man with a penchant for red overalls has not, however, improved his Italian.

When Martinet isn’t in the voice-over booth bringing Mario and friends to life, he’s communing with their devotees around the globe. His Instagram account account is filled with adorable videos of him beaming with equally happy fans—and the occasional cute animal—from Dallas to Cologne. Looks like Martinet is truly following his mantra of “Have fun!”

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