Nintendo's Live-Action Films: Who Should Play Who?

Nintendo's Live-Action Films: Who Should Play Who?

Mike looks at the best Hollywood actors available for live-action adaptations of Nintendo's franchises.

Last week, in an interview with MTV, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and A Link to the Past/Wind Waker producer Takashi Tezuka were asked a simple question: "Who should play Nintendo's top characters in live-action adaptations?"

"That's very hard. I only know Japanese actors," Miyamoto replied. "We're not sure, but it would definitely be difficult to cast. But one thing we can say about the original film is that Luigi was very young and handsome in the original movie, but Mario and Luigi are supposed to be twins. So a new cast would definitely have to be twins."

"This is just personally, but it would be very fun and awesome if Link was played by a female actress. A boyish female actress," said Tezuka.

Since I'm close personal friends with Miyamoto and Tezuka, I'm offering up my extensive knowledge of Hollywood to help them out with casting. Without further ado, here's who Nintendo should cast in live-action adaptations of some of its bigger properties.

Super Mario Bros

Mario and Luigi - Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan

See, everyone's first guess would be real twins who can actually act, like Shawn and Aaron Ashmore, or twins who can't act, like HGTV's Property Brothers' Jonathan and Drew Scott. This is a failure of limited thinking. Instead, you should choose two actors that look so similar that they might as well be brothers.

This insight led me to Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, two actors who look startlingly similar. Who would be who? I'm leaning towards Morgan as Mario, with Bardem stealing every scene as Luigi. Mario and Luigi have been through alot together and I feel both actors could bring the weathered, world-weary charm the Brothers Mario need for this blockbuster film.

Bowser - Russell Crowe

Most would do Bowser as CG, which is fine, but there needs to be some great performance capture here. That means we need someone with a regal bearing and an amazing voice. I'm going to pick Russell Crowe, the Academy Award-winning actor behind such amazing films as Man of Steel, Winter's Tale, and Robin Hood. Not only does Crowe's voice carry the natural timbre for the Mushroom Kingdom's Public Enemy #1, I think Crowe could really portray the motivations behind Bowser's actions.

In fact, let's skip the CG and just put Crowe in an actual Bowser suit. Let the man really act, instead of talking to the air or a green screen. It's for the best.

Princess Peach - Elizabeth Banks

To offset the serious nature of the film, I'm looking for someone with solid comedic timing. Elizabeth Banks is my favored choice, as she can do comedy and drama equally well. As a plus, The Hunger Games has shown that she can wear elaborate ugly dresses and continue acting as if nothing is wrong.

Toad - Cillian Murphy

The trick to casting Toad is looking for someone that's vaguely androgynous, to feed into those long hours of discussions you had back in high school about what Toad is. Also, the film needs a strong visual to really draw audiences in. A younger Jonathan Rhys Meyers would've been a perfect choice for the iconic Toad hat and vest, but he's past his prime now.

Instead, I'm going with Cillian Murphy, who is doing a bang up job in Peaky Blinders. Murphy has the acting chops to really deliver on the character behind the mushroom hat. What is Toad thinking when the princess is kidnapped yet another time? What deep pathos exists behind that smiling exterior?

Yoshi - Jurassic World's Raptor, Voiced by Chris Pratt

To adequately play Yoshi, you need someone who can get inside a dinosaur's head and who better than raptor whisperer Chris Pratt? Pratt has already spent many hours filming alongside real life dinosaurs for Jurassic World, to the point that he was able to calm three raptors that had already killed other potential actors. Pratt can bring that authenticity to his role as Yoshi, the Mario Brothers egg-crapping dinosaur friend.

Wario - Ian McShane

Wario is a hard character to cast be-- Nah, this took me all of three seconds. Ian McShane has the girth, the mad anger, and mustache-growing skills to to pull off the coin-grubbing Wario. Let's be honest, Al Swearengen in Deadwood is based on the real pimp and entrepreneur Ellis Albert "Al" Swearengen, who obviously based his own personality on Wario. This essentially loops us back around, connecting actor with a source material tailor-made for him.

Waluigi - Johnny Depp

Waluigi needs to be every bit the scene-stealer that Luigi is, outshining Wario and the Mario Brothers like a supernova versus a matchstick. Waluigi is the best Mario character ever and so he should be portrayed by the best actor ever: Johnny Depp. Over the course of Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides, Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, and Mortdecai, Depp has shown us the depths of his acting ability. If anyone can convincingly say "It's Waluigi Time!" on-screen, it's Depp.

The Legend of Zelda

Link - Emily Blunt

Tezuka asks and Tezuka shall receive. For Link, Emily Blunt is my favored choice. Edge of Tomorrow showed that Blunt is action-ready: she can wield a sizable sword and look rather serious and concerned when someone else is delivering science fiction/fantasy expository babble. In the same film, Blunt also showed off a sizable number of facial expressions that would go well with the mostly silent Link, from anger, to confusion, to condescension. She's simply perfect for Hyrule's best.

Princess Zelda - Orlando Bloom

Since we're going the opposite direction on Link, I'm doing the same for Princess Zelda. Where are we going to find that long blonde hair, elvish ears, and bow-wielding skills? Look no further than Orlando Bloom, who spends most of his life hiding his elven heritage and dying his natural blonde hair dark so he can pass amongst us mortals. Zelda is Legolas in a dress, and sometimes she's not even in a dress. Bloom is perfect to bring Princess Zelda to life on the big-screen.

Ganondorf - Benedict Cumberbatch

This is a hard one, as Ganondorf has dark skin and fiery red hair. There are very few actors who could convincingly pull off Ganondorf au natural. Everyone's first thought would be Idris Elba, because when you need to cast a black actor these days, that's the only guy everyone can come up with.

Let me take you on a journey though. Who else is brought up in nearly every casting call for any role, regardless of if he's the best choice? Who screams 'villain' even when he's playing heroes? Who actually darkens his natural red hair?

You already know, since you had to read his name and see his picture to get this far in the article. Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch is a great choice. Leave him out in the sun for a few days or paint him with Benjamin Moore's Midnight Oil and you'd have the perfect Ganondorf.

Impa - Ronda Rousey

I know what you're thinking. "Mike, Ronda Rousey barely acts in Furious 7!" I offer up the acknowledge that Impa really isn't much of a character and Ronda Rousey can kick your ass without thinking about it. Also, she can lift that huge sword Impa uses in Hyrule Warriors in real-life. Rousey gains my vote.

Tingle - Nicolas Cage

Dead serious, I would pay good money to see Nicolas Cage as Tingle. It is everything I want in a film.


Samus Aran - Milla Jovovich

I'd probably just go with Emily Blunt again, but that's cheating. Charlize Theron is another great choice, but she did not look good with blonde hair in Prometheus.

Instead, I'm looking for an actress who's already led a video game adaptation. With the Resident Evil film franchise coming to an end with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Milla Jovovich is ready to play Samus Aran. She has the perfect mix of angry and completely lost to adapt the Metroid saga's finest chapter, Metroid: Other M.

(My real personal choice would be Dredd's Olivia Thirlby.)

The Metroid - Vin Diesel

Diesel did an amazing job as the Iron Giant and Groot. His subtle emoting of the eponymous Metroid would probably win him an Oscar. Between him and Jovovich, I think we might possibly see one of the greatest gaming relationships play out on the big screen.

Captain Falcon - Jason Statham

Captain Falcon is anger and justice personified. He deserves an actor who can not only spend an entire shoot screaming "Falcon Punch," but who would also look great in a tight blue uniform. Jason Statham has the physicality to pull off Captain Falcon and based on his time as the Transporter, he also has experience driving vehicles very fast without getting himself killed. Statham is our first and only hope to seeing the Captain done right by Hollywood.

Kirby - Josh Gad

Actually, to be more specific, Josh Gad's head. Utilizing a green screen leotard, Gad's head would be perfect for Nintendo and Hal Entertainment's Kirby. Hollywood's FX wizards would have to color his skin slightly pink and add CG hands and feet, but otherwise, the performance would be 100% Gad. The actor was Olaf in Disney's Frozen, so he's already been one child-friendly character who spends part of its time as just a head. He can bring that experience to bear here.

Who do you think should play Nintendo's finest characters on the big screen? Let us know below!

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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