With “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” recently hitting theaters, actor John Leguizamo is once again voicing his disapproval of the new film. Leguizamo portrayed Luigi along with Bob Hoskins as Mario in the 1993 live-action adaptation of the popular video game. The actor takes issue with Universal and Illumination’s new animated film casting Chris Pratt and Charlie Day to voice Mario and Luigi.
“No I will not [be watching],” said Leguizamo “They could’ve included a Latin character. Like I was groundbreaking and then they stopped the groundbreaking. They messed up the inclusion. They dis-included. Just cast some Latin folk! We’re 20% of the population. The largest people of color group and we are underrepresented.” When asked again if he would be watching the new film, he gave a firm “Hell no!”
He first spoke out about this issue on Twitter last October. While he supports another film adaptation, it is “too bad they went all white! No Latinx in the leads! Groundbreaking color-blind casting in original!”
He spoke out again during an interview with IndieWire in November. Calling the new “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” backward for having two white actors voice Mario and Luigi. Since these characters are historically Italian.
“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, speaking of the first film adaptation. “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.”
Though the obvious elephant in the room here is that Leguizamo himself is not Italian. His concerns about the entertainment industry whitewashing characters that are originally people of color is far from new. The push for more diversity and representation, especially in film, grows stronger and stronger with each passing year. It may be easy to dismiss his ire as sour grapes over not being recast in the role. But his grievances speak to a significantly larger, long-standing issue in entertainment.
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is currently playing in theaters nationwide. You can check out the trailer below: