(CNN) — Mushroom Kingdom will soon bid farewell to one of its longest-tenured residents.
Charles Martinet, the longtime voice of Nintendo’s beloved plumber Mario, is stepping away from the role after nearly 30 years, the video game company announced. Martinet will become a Mario ambassador instead, “sharing the joy of Mario” at international events, Nintendo said.
“It has been an honor working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years and we want to thank and celebrate him,” Nintendo said in Monday’s announcement. The company noted that Nintendo executive and Mario designer Shigeru Miyamoto will soon join Martinet for a “special video message.”
Martinet has voiced the mustachioed hero in dozens of über-popular games, from the groundbreaking “Super Mario 64” in 1996 to the mega-hit “Mario Kart Wii” in 2008 to 2021’s “Mario Party Superstars.” Mario’s accented falsetto has become as integral to the character as his red hat and facial hair — signatures that have made him recognizable the world over.
Nintendo has not publicly announced a potential replacement for Martinet. CNN has reached out to Martinet for comment.
The voice actor thanked his fans for their decades of support in a brief post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“My new Adventure begins!” he wrote in a Mario-esque post. “You are all Numba One in my heart! #woohoo !!!!!!!”
How Martinet became Mario
The way Martinet tells it, he “crashed” an audition Nintendo was holding for potential Marios in the early ’90s (Mario and Luigi did not yet speak in the early Super Mario Bros. games). In an interview with Guinness World Records, Martinet said a casting director gave him a simple prompt: “‘You’re an Italian plumber from Brooklyn for this company called Nintendo. The character’s name is Mario. Make up a voice.’”
Martinet said he immediately began spouting off instructions on how to make a pizza in Mario’s Italian-flecked falsetto. His off-the-cuff performance impressed Mario creator Miyamoto, and Martinet first voiced Mario in a 1994 CD-ROM game called “Mario Teaches Typing.”
But most Mario fans met Martinet in 1996 with the release of the instant-classic “Super Mario 64” (IGN called it the “greatest video game to date” at the time of its release). The first Mario game to feature 3D gameplay, Martinet provided Mario’s various whoops, hollers and cheers that have since defined the character.
Martinet has also voiced some of Mushroom Kingdom’s other residents, heroes and enemies: Mario’s brother, Luigi, the baby versions of the plumber brothers and their wily rivals Wario and Waluigi.
Martinet’s love for Mario is legend
Martinet’s love for the plumber he plays is almost as legendary as his performance. He said in the interview with Guinness World Records that all the “woo-hoos!” and “it’s a-me!” deliveries never get old, and perhaps that’s why he holds the world record for most video game voiceover performances as the same character.
“I love this character,” he said. “I want to be more like this character — full of joy and happiness and fun and courage.”
At a 2021 fan expo appearance, Martinet said while he’d love to voice Mario forever, he’d also cede the spot if he no longer felt capable.
“I hope there will still be Mario after I am gone,” he said during the fan expo, according to the Game Crater. “Anyways, there are over 5 million audio files of me voicing Mario. I go into the studio and record 45 takes of every sound I can think of, so I’m not going anywhere for a long time.”
And while Martinet didn’t voice Mario in the blockbuster “Super Mario Bros. Movie” (a point of controversy among his fans), he did play two crucial roles — that of a supporter named Giuseppe with a familiar voice, and, in a meta touch, Mario and Luigi’s father.
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