Charles Martinet (born Sept. 17, 1955 in San Jose, CA as Charles André Martinet) is the signature voice of the logo from 1994-1999 and is the voice of the slug, Sly. He is better known for voicing Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi and Baby Mario/Luigi for Super Mario.
Working for Nintendo since 1990, Martinet started voicing Mario at video game trade shows in which attendees would walk up to a TV screen displaying a 3-D Mario head that moved around the screen and talked. This system was called Mario in Real-Time or MIRT and was developed by Pasadena based SimGraphics. Martinet could see the attendees by means of a hidden camera setup, and a facial motion capture rig recorded his mouth movements in order to synchronize Martinet's mouth movement with the on-screen Mario mouth movement. This digital puppetry, with Martinet's comic performance, was a novelty at the time.
Martinet earned the job when, one day, he was told by his friend that there was going to be an audition at a trade show in which you "talk to people as a plumber". He went to the audition at the last minute as the casting directors were already putting away their equipment. Charles Martinet walked in and asked, "Can I please read for this?". The directors let him audition and told him, "You're an Italian plumber from Brooklyn".
At first Martinet planned to talk like a stereotypical Italian American with a deep voice (which is how Mario sounded in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World cartoons). He then thought to himself that it would be too harsh for the kids to hear, so he made it more friendly and more of an Italian-American, resulting in what Mario's voice is today.
Martinet has also stated that he kept on talking with his Mario voice until the audition tape ran out. He says that Petruchio from William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew was an inspiration for his portrayal of Mario. Martinet originally was not invited to audition for the role of Mario; he crashed the auditions, and was asked to do an Italian accent. His recordings left so much of an impression that he is the only one sent there.
Martinet first officially voiced Mario with Mario in Real Time in 1994, when he had motion sensors hooked to his face, which transposed his facial movements to a computer-generated Mario head on a screen. Martinet watched people passing by the screen through a surveillance camera and talked to them as Mario. This is used rather often by Nintendo when attending trade shows. An altered form of Mario in Real Time appeared in 1995's Mario's FUNdamentals (also the first video game to have Mario portrayed by Charles Martinet).
- Last name is pronounced "Mar-tee-nay", and not "Mar-tee-neht".
- He speaks fluent French and Spanish, and a little bit of Italian, also with these accents (revealed for Hit It, Maestro!).
- His favorite actors include Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams and Colin Firth.
- He plays the voice of Gordo Globe for The Smart Guide to 1st Grade, Buddy "e" for the Phonics Program books 6 (Cake and Mice Cream) and 7 (Mole's Huge Nose), and has also done the roles of J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky for Hit It, Maestro!, among many others.