Based on nothing more than a teaser poster and the involvement of Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, it’s not insane to already call The Super Mario Bros Movie a better Mario movie than Super Mario Bros. Will this bold claim still be true if the movie begins with Chris Pratt’s Mario, sounding exactly like Andy Dwyer and Star-Lord and what’s-his-face from Jurassic World, saying something like, “My life is a lot like a video game”? We’ll find out soon enough (tomorrow!), but at least one of the movie’s stars didn’t have to get drunk to finish making it. I mean, probably. You never know with Jack Black.
Directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, 1993’s Super Mario Bros. has a long, tortured history, which you can read about it here. But the tl;dr version can be summed up through quotes over the years from the late, great Bob Hoskins, who played Mario.
The Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Mona Lisa legend only learned Mario was a video game character after agreeing to star in the movie. “I didn’t even know it was a game,” he said. “It was my kids that told me. They said, ‘What’s your next film’, and I said ‘Super Mario Bros.’ ‘Oh, that’s the game.'” Hoskins had no idea what his kids were going on about, so they showed him the video game. “And I saw this thing jumping up and down,” he said, “and thought [sobering, Chris Pine-style pause], I used to play King Lear.”
That’s my second favorite actor quote ever, after “I cannot sanction your buffoonery.”
BOB HOSKINS with a sobering thought after finding out the Super Mario Bros. (1993) film was based on a video game. pic.twitter.com/UiP3KtOFVI
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) August 16, 2022
Things only got worse once filming started. From a 1992 set report:
“All these rewrites get frustrating so I don’t do too much research,” says Hoskins grimly, while waiting all morning for the directors to decide the shot. “The trick is: Don’t take the job too seriously, turn up and do your day’s work. That’s all.”
Hoskins and John Leguizamo, who played Luigi, would get drunk between takes, “a habit that may have contributed to Hoskins breaking a finger during a driving stunt,” the Guardian theorized. He also told Entertainment Tonight that “if you’re going to survive this film, you’re going to have to be very, very careful… I got stabbed four times. Electrocuted. Broke a finger. Nearly got drowned. And that’s just what happened to me.”
Hoskins later called making Super Mario Bros. a “f*ckin’ nightmare.” And he wasn’t done: “The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F*ckin’ nightmare. F*ckin’ idiots.”
In 2011, Hoskins participated in a rapid-fire Q&A interview with the Guardian. When the actor was asked to name the worst job he ever agreed to, he replied, “Super Mario Brothers.” What has been your biggest disappointment? “Super Mario Brothers.” If you could edit your past, what would you change? “I wouldn’t do Super Mario Brothers.”
I’m beginning to think Bob Hoskins did not enjoy making Super Mario Bros.
Maybe in 20 years, Seth Rogen will share all the dirty laundry about voicing Donkey Kong in The Super Mario Bros Movie, and how Anya Taylor-Joy flushed his weed down the toilet and Chris Pratt broke his precious pottery, or whatever. But more likely, it was a smoother production than making the original Mario movie. Less terrifying goombas, too.
The Super Mario Bros Movie comes out on April 7, 2023.