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How Chris Pratt’s Role Reveals a Problem in Hollywood


Summary

  • Chris Pratt’s casting as the voice of Garfield reflects a larger problem in the entertainment industry of high-profile actors replacing voice acting legends.
  • The decision to cast Pratt ignores the talented aspiring voice actors who are struggling to make it in the industry.
  • Sony Pictures is prioritizing trendiness over giving opportunities to up-and-coming voice actors, depriving them of potential jobs.


After Charles Martinet stepped down as the voice of Mario, the responsibility to continue the legacy of Nintendo’s famous Italian plumber fell on the shoulders of Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt, who found success as the new voice of Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The Nintendo and Illumination collaboration earned $1.3 billion at the global box office to become the highest-grossing video game adaptation and the second-highest-grossing movie of 2023 behind Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Now, Pratt will be ditching the overalls for a fresh coat of fur as he replaces Hollywood megastar Bill Murray as the voice of the lazy house cat Garfield.

Mark Dindal will be at the helm of the animated adventure, Garfield, which is set for release in May 2024 and stars Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, and Ving Rhames. Although many Chris Pratt followers will no doubt be delighted by the news, casting such a high-profile actor feeds into a larger problem with the entertainment industry, specifically Pratt’s rise to fame as an up-and-coming voice actor. Similarly to how John Cena changed course from wrestling to acting, Pratt has transitioned from live-action to voice acting.

This may seem relatively harmless, as Pratt is by no means a bad voice actor, but there’s a deep-rooted issue that needs to be addressed.


Voice Acting Legends Are Being Replaced

Rocksteady Studios

Acting legends aren’t out of the question. Harley Quinn voice actress Tara Strong and Joker voice actor Mark Hamill are currently in their 50s and 70s, respectively. They certainly aren’t over the hill just yet. In fact, Strong recently voiced Twilight Sparkle in the animated comedy My Little Pony: Make Your Mark, while Hamill will be voicing Lieutenant Commander Steve Colton in an upcoming video game, Squadron 42.

Other famous names include Frank Welker, Nancy Cartwright, Billy West, Tom Kane, and Grey DeLisle. Many of these industry veterans have been voicing fictional characters for years, so why stop now? On the one hand, passing the baton to the newer generation is rather admirable, but considering the backlash that someone like Chris Pratt faced for taking on Mario’s voice, fans would have happily taken Charles Martinet for at least a few more years.

RELATED: Do We Even Need a Garfield Reboot?

As the common saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That same principle applies here. Although Martinet stepped down as Mario’s voice in Nintendo’s video game franchise, Kevin Afghani has been hired to replace him, starting with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Afghani will also be the future voice of Luigi and Wario. When we relate this back to Garfield, it’s theoretically possible for any voice actor to embody Garfield. In the 2004 movie, Bill Murray used his own voice, thus becoming ‘the’ voice of Garfield. Garfield is much less an accent or a set of mannerisms as much as he is personable to whomever the voice belongs.

The entertainment industry hopped on the success of Chris Pratt’s Mario and saw dollar signs in his future. Evidently, the decision to cast him was made without consideration for the voice actors who paved the way.

Jobs Are Being Taken From Aspiring Voice Actors

YouTuber KallMeKris in a black hoodie with an edit of Lois Griffin from Family Guy next to her in a YouTube video.
YouTube / KallMeKris

There are countless aspiring voice actors out there, some of whom have never landed a professional role in their careers. If they even make it big, many of them find themselves settling for smaller roles in singular episodes or scenes. Others aren’t even professionals; they mimic voices as a hobby for online content.

Canadian social media personality KallMeKris has been a mainstay of YouTube for a few years and began uploading videos of her character and celebrity impressions from 2020 to 2021. In the years since, her videos have amassed millions of views. Viewers have often commented on her vocal range, suggesting she could make a career out of voice acting. Kris has since chosen to focus on her social media output and currently uploads skits on TikTok.

RELATED: 12 Best Cat Movies of All Time

We can compare this situation to the controversy surrounding the new Wonka movie starring Timothée Chalamet. When the teaser trailer was released, audiences saw Hugh Grant’s Oompa-Loompa. The character’s appearance prompted backlash from George Coppen, an actor with dwarfism. He criticized Warner Bros. for casting Grant in a role that could have been offered to actors with dwarfism.

In 1971, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory decided to cast several actors with dwarfism to portray the Oompa-Loompas. Hugh Grant’s fame overshadowed Warner Bros.’s consideration for a minority community of actors who would love a once-in-a-lifetime role like that.

All of this to say, this reflects more poorly on Sony Pictures than it does Pratt. He’s making a name for himself in the voice acting industry, and no one can ever shame him for that, but there’s a boatload of hungry talent out there who would kill to be as famous as him. Many practice voices in their home studios, hoping to one day be cast as Garfield. Sony Pictures is effectively depriving up-and-coming actors of jobs by casting whoever seems to be trending at the current moment.

The Garfield Movie is expected to arrive in theaters on May 24, 2024.



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