John Leguizamo Turned Down a Role in ‘Philadelphia’ Because ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Offered Him ‘Crazy Money’

In 1993, actor John Leguizamo starred in the critically panned Super Mario Bros. The film is seen by many as an underwhelming and subpar adaptation that seemingly underperformed at every level. However, Leguizamo almost saved himself from starring in the film when he was offered Philadelphia. But the actor rejected Philadephia in favor of Super Mario Bros, in part, because of a huge pay day.

John Leguizamo was proud of ‘Super Mario Bros’

John Leguizamo smirking in a suit.
John Leguizamo | Walter McBride/Getty Images

Despite the backlash Super Mario Bros. would later receive, Leguizamo has shared that he’s proud of the movie. In fact, the John Wick actor revealed he has a lot of fond memories filming Super Mario with his castmates. On the youtube channel SMB Movie, Leguizamo recorded a special message reminiscing and celebrating his Super Mario Bros for the film’s then-20 year anniversary.

“I’m glad people appreciate the movie,” Leguizamo said. “I really do. You know, it was one of the first video game movies. So, it was tough because it was the first. No one had really done one before. Didn’t really know how to go about it. So we were pioneers. We made a lot of great things, we made a lot of mistakes, but I’m proud of the movie in retrospect.”

Leguizamo also went on to applaud and compliment the cast he worked with. This included the late Dennis Cooper and his co-star Bob Hoskins, who played Mario against Leguizamo;s Luigi.

“He gave it everything he had,” Leguizamo said regarding his partner.

Why John Leguizamo turned down a role in ‘Philadelphia’

As some may know, John Leguizamo was originally set to star in Tom Hanks’ Philadelphia. In an interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, he explained how he was set to play a pivotal role in the critically acclaimed movie.

“I was supposed to be Tom Hanks’ lover, but I didn’t think he was good-looking enough for me,” Leguizamo quipped. “I wanted like Kevin Costner or Denzel Washington. So I turned it down for Super Mario Bros, and then of course they all won Oscars, and I won the ‘John, how can you be so stupid’ award from my wife.”

But while stopping by Sway in the Morning, Leguizamo went into a bit more detail about him choosing Super Mario Bros.

“I can’t always judge what’s better,” Leguizamo said.

But the actor chose to do the video game adaptation because “Super Mario Bros offered me crazy money and I was gonna be the second lead with Bob Hoskins. How could I say no?”

Leguizamo soon quipped that perhaps he should’ve said no at the time. But agreeing to do the film taught the actor a valuable lesson.

“Don’t go for the money or the power, just go for the better role,” he added.

John Leguizamo didn’t think the ‘Super Mario’ animated reboot was diverse enough

Not too long ago, it was announced that the Super Mario franchise is getting a bit of a reboot. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the film was going to star actors such as Chris Pratt and Anya Taylor Joy. But although Leguizamo was happy to see the franchise making a comeback, he took a bit of issue with the movie’s casting choices.

“So glad Super Mario Bros is getting a reboot,” Leguizamo posted on Twitter. “Obviously it’s iconic stuff. But too bad they went all white! No Latinx in the leads! Groundbreaking color-casting in the original!”

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