He's been a hero, a general, a plumber, and even an ape. Our own Younger Plumber meets the true "voice" of Nintendo, Charles Martinet, in this PGC exclusive interview. Read it or Wario smacks you!
Charles Martinet, the cheerful voice of Mario, his egotistical counterpart Wario, and all sorts of characters in-between, was kind enough to offer an interview with Planet GameCube last month during E3. Mr. Martinet shares with us why he plays Nintendo games, what makes Mario so loveable and why some may even call him Super Martinet!
Charles Martinet: First of all, let me say [as Mario] “Hello! It’s-a me, Mario! Woo-hoo!”
Michael “The Younger Plumber” Cole: [as Luigi] “How’s it going, Mario?”
CM: I have to say, it’s been a lot of fun this year.
TYP: Yeah! It sounds like you had a lot of fun!
CM: You know, that’s what it’s all about for me, is having fun! Enjoying the people, having people play with me and just enjoying [it] the whole way.
TYP: It looked like you had a lot of fun up there with the Double Dash girls.
CM: Yeah! The Double Dash—they were so great! They were so good and interactive—you know, they were playful and joyful….This system that we have here is a real-time animation system made by Sim Graphics Engineering in Pasadena, California. And the way it works is it’s microphone-driven—the mouth is microphone driven—so it hears the syllables, the vowel sounds that I do—ooh, ahh, eee—and it translates them to the character movements, and then I use, like, a game controller [lifts to show us] to, uh, change from character to character, get close up or far away, change the scene, change some facial expressions and body…dancing, stuff like that—
TYP: That was new this year, wasn’t it?
CM: Yeah it was! It was also in 3D in DVD 3D format so it’s got nice depth and feel.
TYP: Whose idea was that?
CM: You know, that was…Don James, and uh, Ralph Miller and…the powers that be…the ones that let me play.
TYP: So now, uh, I heard something about you being a hero….
TYP: Could you tell us about that?
CM: Um…well, I don’t know if I’m a hero, but I guess it was almost two years ago, now. I was driving down the freeway and, uh, a guy in a minivan hit the center divider and the car flipped over and, uh, caught fire. And he was—I pulled in front of him and he was inside the car, he was convulsing and he was strapped in and there was an empty baby seat. And so I saw that the van was on fire, so I thought, well, I had very limited time to get him out, so I kicked the window in the back of the van in and punched out the glass with my hand, climbed inside, and I looked for him, looked for a baby. I couldn’t find a baby—that made me very happy—so I got him out of the seat belt and pulled him out of the car, which was nuts. It was quick, but the hard part was there was somebody outside screaming, “It’s gonna blow up, it’s gonna blow up! Get out! It’s gonna blow up!” and I couldn’t see out the front of the van, all I could see was smoke. And then I could see a foot hit the windshield every once in a while and the windshield wasn’t gonna work. But getting him out the back did. And unfortunately the only problem was I got about a hundred stitches in my leg and my, uh, arm, because I didn’t realize that glass when it beads like that is very sharp, but I was really lucky…there was no nerve damage or anything like that—it healed perfectly!
TYP: Super Mario!
CM: Yeah, yeah!
CM: The guy in the emergency room was an old Vietnam War doctor so he did a great job.
TYP: So, you know, you get a lot of leeway when you’re doing your Wario voice up there, what kind of liberties does Nintendo give you or are there any sort of restraints—
CM: [laughs] It’s OK to push the envelope, but not over the edge! [laughs] So the whole thing is about, I think, one of the wonderful things about Nintendo games and the ability to interact in this form is…ya know, there are games that are value-driven: the characters are value-driven and the characters are full-flushed, ya know, characters. And Mario is not the type of person that hurts people with the comedy or hurts people with what he does, and Wario is, ya know, the evil, bad boy, but even in his worstness he’s always taking the humor out of himself, ya know. Laughing and then falling over, doing something that never hurts somebody else, and that’s a rule for me in comedy, is you don’t do things to hurt people, and I think that is a rule of Nintendo, too, is that you don’t do things that hurt people. It’s about fun, it’s about joy, it’s about, ya know, really…making things fun!
TYP: There were a lot of Mario games out on the floor!
CM: Yeah! Isn’t it fantastic? I love it! I love the new Wario World, I love the Mario Kart game is great, and who knows, maybe we could be recording something again very soon and—
CM: Ask me why I love Mario so much!
TYP: [over laughter] Oh! Well, OK. Why do you love Mario so much?
CM: I love Mario so much because he—and I think there’s a universal appeal of him so great—is because he’s a hero who’s an every man. You know, just a plumber from Brooklyn but he falls in love with a Princess and spends his life rescuing her and loving her, and ya know, he loves his brother, he loves his Baby Mario, he loves the Princess, he loves his-a papa and his-a mama and everybody, ya know? And that’s beautiful. And I think the—also, one of the great geniuses about Mr. Miyamoto’s games is, first of all, he’s an absolute genius. He is…thanks to him we are all here [at E3], we’re all able to explore this incredible, wondrous world of video games. But he sort of created the idea of the plot in a game, the idea of a movie-like unfoldment but with much more depth and much more richness, ya know, much more adventures and the gamer gets to really explore the creative genius of Mr. Miyamoto the better they get, and that’s why for me personally I think that videogames are so healthy for people—the right videogames are so healthy for people to play, because they really teach you the—getting into the creative process and the creative geniuses behind it.
TYP: So what is your favorite Mario game?
CM: You know, I have to say I really love every single one, ya know?….Something like Mario Kart is fun just because it is just sheer fun, ya know what I mean? Just pure fun. Mario Golf is just pure fun. But I really enjoy just getting from level-to-level in, ya know, the Mario games, Mario Sunshine and I think that…but it, but it…it’s hard!
CM: I love that game, you know I wish—I’m not as accomplished as I’d like to be so it takes me a little bit longer than a great game player to get to the boss, but, ya know…There hardly is—There is no end, but, you know, to get…there…
TYP: You mentioned you play video games, so I was wondering, what other games—what else do you do when you’re not—
CM: I play many Nintendo games, I mean I just love Nintendo games. I love them because, ya know, they’re not all blood and guts—although you can get that stuff too! I mean, there’s Resident Evil, there are video games with a lot of action to them, but for me, I like the Mario games, the Luigi game. I’m sure I’m gonna love the Wario World too, that’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve got to SMACK it, ya know?
TYP: There’s a lot of smackin.’
CM: There’s a lot of smackin’ in that game. I love it! It’s really fun, yeah.
TYP: You do stuff other than Mario and Nintendo games too, and a lot of people don’t know about that. What have you found—what else have you done that’s really fun?
CM: Well I’ve been in more than a hundred video games…absolutely one of the funnest ones to do is the Rogue Squadron series with Lucas Arts. Ya know, going in there, throwing in a voice here and a general here, a fighter pilot there and that sort of thing, and that’s just awesome fun.
TYP: Well, uh, thank you very much!
TYP: Could we maybe get a little “I hate Planet GameCube” from Wario?
CM: I hate Planet GameCube?
PGC Staff: …From Wario.
CM: Oh! Oh, OK.
CM: [as Wario] “Uh, Wario says to Planet GameCube: have a rotten day! I hate you! *thpppppt* Hehehehehehehehehe!”
TYP: Thank you very much!
CM: You bet. My pleasure.
The Planet GameCube staff would like to thank Charles Martinet once again for spending his free time with us after a hard (but fun) day of work.