Thank you, All The Right Movies, for digging up this old interview with Bob Hoskins, in which the award-winning British actor talks about the time he got the job playing Mario in the 1993 big-screen adaptation of Nintendo’s series.
“I didn’t even know it was a game”, Hoskins says, bemused, to the interviewer. “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!”
“Oh, oh, what?”
“Yeah, here, and this is you!”
“And I’ve saw this thing jumping up and down and thought [pause] “I used to play King Lear’”.
The “King Lear” thing is funny, of course, but it’s the pause that gets me. The pause that lets the world know that it is now, at this precise moment, that Hoskins is recounting the full gravity of the situation he found himself in.
He has played King Lear (as well as appearing in performances of Othello and Romeo and Juliet). He has also won a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a BAFTA and a Best Actor award at Cannes. He was excellent as J. Edgar Hoover in Nixon, fantastic as George in Mona Lisa and lit up the screen in The Long Good Friday.
Here, though, he is Mario. Starring in a movie that, despite recent attempts at reconstructing its reputation, is abysmal by almost every metric, so bad it put Nintendo off making another movie for decades.
We’ve all been in this moment. When the passage of time seems to stop entirely, allowing us a rare glimpse back at the full scale of the cruel and calculating twists it has taken along the way, at the staggering distance it has covered in our lifetimes. We have all been King Lear at one point in our lives. And, eventually, we will all be Mario as well.