Charles Martinet (last name pronounced mar-tin-AY), born September 17, 1955 in San Jose, California, 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 did Donkey Kong and Petey Piranha until getting replaced with Takashi Nagasako (although in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he voiced DK and Diddy). Martinet also plays minor characters, such as Wart and other bosses from Super Mario Bros. 2 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.
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.