Charles Martinet (last name pronounced mar-tin-AY), born September 17, 1955 in San Jose, California, United States, is the prominent voice actor of the Mario games. He plays several major characters, including Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Wario, Metal Mario, Toadsworth, and many other characters. He also voiced Petey Piranha until getting replaced with Takashi Nagasako as of Mario Superstar Baseball. Martinet portrayed the male bosses in Super Mario Advance as well. Martinet plays the vast majority of the male characters in the Mario series. The Internet Movie Database attributes over seventy works to Martinet in total. Martinet speaks fluent French and Spanish, but, ironically, only a little Italian. His first voice over work at Nintendo was voicing the announcers, boxers and the referee in Super Punch-Out!! for the SNES.
Martinet originally wasn't invited to audition for the role of Mario. He crashed the auditions, and was asked to do an Italian accent until he ran out of things to say. He left so much of an impression at the recording that his tape was the only one sent to Nintendo. A former Shakespearean actor, Martinet has stated that Mario's voice was based on his voice for Gremio, a character from The Taming of the Shrew.
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, with Martinet's voice, though most consider Mario's voice debut to be Super Mario 64 in 1996.