Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario since 1996, is stepping down as a voice actor. Announced by Nintendo, Martinet will continue to work for Nintendo as a “Mario ambassador”, a somewhat unique role that will presumably involve a lot of “a-wa-wa-wa”ing and “wa-hoo”ing.
Voicing Mario has clearly been a busy role for Martinet, with the gig including not just mainline Mario games, but all the spin-offs as well, including Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, and pretty much everything involving Mario. His first role as Mario came 26 years ago, in Super Mario 64, and Martinet’s performance featured heavily in the game, with “lets-a-go” playing for every star selection. His work as Mario was clearly well appreciated by Nintendo, as they cast his as further members of the Mario games, including Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and the baby versions of many characters.
It’s clear Martinet couldn’t continue in the role forever though, and at 67 years of age, he may have been looking to lighten his workload and enjoy a semi-retirement. Nintendo posted the news with well wishes for the voice actor.
"It has been an honour working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years and we want to thank and celebrate him” Nintendo wrote in a statement. “Please keep an eye out for a special video message from Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario) and Charles himself, which we will post at a future date."
Martinet came into sharp focus earlier this year and in 2021, when it was announced Marvel star Chris Pratt would voice Mario in the The Super Mario Bros. Movie. There was outrage and outcry from Martinet fans about not casting the Mario legend in the role, though Martinet played a role as Mario and Luigi’s father in the film. The movie went on to make over $1.3 billion at the box office, so it was far from a disappointment for Nintendo. Since the announcement, there have been rumors that Pratt would reprise his role as Mario in later games, but this has not been announced by Nintendo or Pratt at this time.