The Super Mario Bros. Movie is having a blockbuster debut week, but John Leguizamo won’t be among those in the audience.
The 62-year-old actor told TMZ during a stop in New York City on Wednesday that he wouldn’t be seeing the new film due to its lack of a ‘Latin character.’
It’s unclear from his complaints if he wanted the film the fictional Italian video game characters Mario and Luigi to be rewritten as Latin, or if he again wanted a Latin actor to play one of the two leads, as he did in the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros.
The criticisms, which he previously voiced last year, don’t appear to have made a sizable impact on the movie’s box office, as it grossed more money in its first full day in theaters than the earlier film made over its entire domestic run in theaters, without accounting for inflation.
‘No, I will not be watching,’ Leguizamo said as he posed for selfies with fans.
Boycotting: John Leguizamo told TMZ on Wednesday that he wouldn’t be seeing the new Super Mario Bros. Movie because it doesn’t feature a ‘Latin character’; seen March 23 in NYC
Old school: Leguizamo starred as the Italian plumber Luigi in the critically reviled 1993 bomb Super Mario Bros.; seen with costar Bob Hoskins, who was English
‘They could’ve included a Latin character. I was groundbreaking, and then they stopped the groundbreaking,’ he said.
‘They messed up the inclusion. They dis-included,’ Leguizamo continued. ‘Just cast some Latin folk. We’re 20 percent of the population — the largest people-of-color group, and we’re underrepresented. Over-represented in the worst kinda jobs, though.’
Although Mario and Luigi are portrayed as Italian in various games, the characters were created by the Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi.
Leguizamo may have meant to specify Latin actors, as he was still playing Italian in the 1993 film.
However, the new Super Mario Bros. Movie does have some Latin actors, though not in the lead roles.
Former Saturday Night Live star Fred Armisen — who is featured as Donkey Kong’s father Cranky Kong — has a Venezuelan mother and Korean and European ancestry on his father’s side. He has also regularly played Latin characters.
Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Princess Peach, identifies as white, but she is a fluent in Spanish and spent her early years living in Argentina.
The Queen’s Gambit star’s father is of Anglo-Argentine and British descent, while her mother is half Spanish — which would be considered Hispanic, as it’s a Spanish-speaking country, but not Latin, as it is not part of Latin America.
Back in November, Leguizamo seemed clearer on wanting an actor of color as one of the leads, rather than a character.
He told IndieWire that it ‘sucks’ that the new film had white actors Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as Mario and Luigi, respectively.
‘I’m O.G. A lot of people love the original,’ said the Bogotá, Colombia–born star. ‘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.’
He added that ‘The directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton fought really hard for me to be the lead because I was a Latin man, and [the studio] didn’t want me to be the lead. They fought really hard, and it was such a breakthrough.’
He added that, ‘for them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks.’
Didn’t get it right: ‘They messed up the inclusion. They dis-included,’ Leguizamo said. However, Fred Armisen is half Venezuelan, and Anya Taylor-Joy has Anglo-Argentine and Spanish heritage, though she identifies as white; still from The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Number one in his heart: In November, Leguizamo claimed to IndieWire that Mario fans at Comic-Cons had confessed how much they love the 1993 live-action film
Holding his nose: Seth Rogen, who voices Donkey Kong, called the previous film ‘one of the worst films ever made’ while chatting with Variety at the premiere on Saturday; seen April 1 in LA
While the estimation of the 1993 film has risen over time, and newer viewers appreciate the film’s impressive production design, Seth Rogen recently shared his disappointment in the earlier film while chatting with Variety at The Super Mario Bros. Movie premiere on Saturday.
‘When I was 11, I saw the original Super Mario Bros. movie and I was so excited,’ he remembered. ‘But it’s one of the worst films ever made.
‘I was so disappointed. I think it made me realize that movies, like, could be bad. That never occurred to me until that moment,’ he added.
Rogen also said he was happy that another ’11-year-olds out there won’t be disappointed in the same way that I was.’