Long before the upcoming animated Super Mario Bros movie, there was an ill-fated live-action adaptation that often appears in the list of the worst films of all time. When Bob Hoskins signed on to play Mario in the cyberpunk mess that barely related to the Nintendo classic, he had no idea it was based on a video game until his son told him midway through production. Meanwhile, Dennis Hopper, who played the villainous King Koopa aka Bowser in a humanoid form, admitted to his son years later that the only reason he signed on for the 1993 critically panned flop was for the money.
Hopper said on Conan in 2008: “I made a picture called Super Mario Bros, and my six-year-old son at the time – he’s now 18 – he said, ‘Dad, I think you’re probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ and I said, ‘Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,’ and he said, ‘Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.'”
Both he and Hoskins hated working on the movie dealing with daily rewrites of the script by directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. In fact, at one point the King Koopa star lost it with the continual changes during production and ended up yelling at the filmmakers for almost three hours.
According to AV Club, Hopper said: “It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband and wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn’t talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget.”
Hoskins agreed, telling The Guardian in 2007: “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a f***in’ nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F***in’ nightmare. F***in’ idiots.”
Aside from the relationship difficulties, the Mario star suffered serious injuries and relied on getting drunk with his Luigi co-star to get through the horror show.
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In his autobiography, Luigi actor John Leguizamo said how much he and Hoskins hated working on the movie and drank through their realisation of just how bad it was going to turn out. The star also claimed one of the biggest reasons Super Mario Bros turned out so bad was because the directors wanted a more adult story even though the source material was aimed at kids.
If things weren’t bad enough, the Luigi actor broke Hoskins’ finger when their van door slammed on his hand. The Mario star started swearing his head off, but did immediately forgive Leguizamo.
As result, Hoskins had to wear a cast that was painted pink to look like his hand for the rest of the production. On top of this, the actor claimed to Entertainment Tonight in 1993: “If you’re going to survive this film, you’re going to have to be very, very careful […] I got stabbed four times. Electrocuted. Broke a finger. Nearly got drowned.”
Hopefully, Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros movie will be a big improvement when it’s released on April 7, 2023.