Wednesday , May 29 2024

Fan EXPO Boston: Kenny James, Samantha Kelly and Charles Martinet on the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Games

Fan EXPO Boston hosted an exciting panel in early August with voice actors from the Super Mario Bros. video games. The panelists were Kenny James (Bowser), Samantha Kelly (Princess Peach) and Charles Martinet (Mario). They reminisced about working on the successful Nintendo franchise as well as other projects.

On Mario

First voicing Mario in the 1990s, Martinet has worked on the games the longest of the three voice actors. He summed up his years as Mario as “playing in the sandbox.” The actors recorded lines in different ways, offering many possibilities for the Nintendo team to choose from.

His knowledge about the games is extensive, particularly in his understanding of Nintendo’s vision. He explained why the Mario games usually avoid having too much dialogue. The purpose was “to keep the action going. If Mario stopped, ‘Oh, look at this!’ Da-da-da and on and on, it would take us out of the game as intended and put us in a different one.”

Photo of Charles Martinet at the Super Mario panel
Charles Martinet (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Martinet loves everything about Mario. He said, “What could be more fun than being the character that you want to be? Full of love and joy and authenticity, loyalty, trustworthiness and caring. Those are all aspects of humanity that I’ve aspired to.”

On Favorites

At the Q&A, a fan asked about favorite characters in the Super Mario franchise. Kelly said, “I’m a fan of the princesses. One of our friends is Laura Faye Smith, who plays Princess Rosalina. I love her so much and any time I get to hang around her.”

James loves Bowser. He said, “I don’t think I would want to perform any of the other characters. I will tell you aside from Bowser, who is my obvious favorite, Yoshi is my second favorite.” 

Samantha Kelly at the Super Mario panel
Samantha Kelly (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

James, Kelly, and Martinet enjoyed putting their voices to so many Super Mario games. For Kelly, it still poses a challenge when she hears that she’s booked another recording session as Princess Peach. “I think, do I know how to do this? Then when you get in and you begin it, it is so there. They’re all hard for me before I do them, then when I do them it’s just joy.”

A fan also asked if Martinet had a favorite Kirby video game. “Every Kirby game! I always say if I wake up in the morning and I see nothing but pink, I’m not dead; Kirby ate me!”

From Super Mario to Anime

Beyond Mario, these voice actors keep busy with other projects. Kelly appeared in films Deep Water and Putting Love to the Test recently. She said, “We’re always excited about what’s next. Everything else—it’s like in your life you have chapters, things you’ve done, and they’re all beloved.”

James agreed with her, with his branching out past Bowser’s growls and roars into Attack on Titan and Black Summoner. “Everything we do is so much fun. I’ve gotten both feet in the door doing anime now … And they let me speak English.”

Photo of Kenny James at the Super Mario panel
Kenny James (Credit: Pat Cuadros)

Martinet also took on anime by voicing Magenta in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. “Chris Sabat is the most amazing director. He’s the actor’s director. The engineers they had were superb. Before I could say, ‘I want to do another take,’ the other guys have already lined it up.”

He was thrilled about returning to anime after nearly 30 years and joining the Dragon Ball Super cast for the red carpet event. “That’s why you always do what you love to do, and then gifts come popping in from the universe.”

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

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