"Super Mario Bros." Co-Stars Got Drunk Every Day Filming 1993 Flop

Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo dealt with their frustration over the video game movie by drinking on set.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie was one of the biggest box office hits of 2023. But don't confuse the animated feature with another Mario adaptation—1993's Super Mario Bros. is a very different film and was far less successful. The live-action Nintendo-based movie is considered one of the worst films of all time and was a box office flop. The stars and crew of the movie have spoken out over the years about the disastrous production and how it all went wrong. John Leguizamo even admitted that he and co-star Bob Hoskins would get drunk every day on set to cope with the chaos. Read on to find out more about the movie and the trouble its impaired actors got into.

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Super Mario Bros. is very loosely based on the game.

Super Mario Bros. was the first video-game-to-movie adaptation, but it's not very faithful to its Nintendo source material. Like the game, it is about two plumber brothers, Mario and Luigi, and that's about where the comparisons end. In the movie, the siblings embark on a mission involving another dimension and a humanoid villain descended from dinosaurs played by Dennis Hopper.

According to an oral history of the movie published by Inverse, the film was constantly being rewritten—even once filming had started—and the entire production was a mess.

"As directors, we had to pretend we loved the new script," Rocky Morton, who co-directed Super Mario Bros. with his wife, Annabel Jankel, said. "Nobody was happy about it. Sometimes, whole sets didn't even make sense." He added, "We lost the actors. They kind of revolted against it."

The actors drank on set.

Fiona Shaw in "Super Mario Bros."
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Hoskins and Leguizamo starred as Mario and Luigi, respectively. According to Game Informer, in his 2006 memoir, Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends: My Life, Leguizamo wrote that he and Hoskins did shots of scotch between scenes as a way of dealing with the troubled production.

Fiona Shaw, who plays Lena in the movie, also admitted to getting in on the party.

"Bob used to get special whiskey sent from England—single malts—and we would drink those copiously in his caravan," she told Inverse.

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The drinking led to an injury.

Warning: Explicit language in video above.

The on-set drinking reportedly led to one of a few injuries for Hoskins. Game Informer reported while Leguizamo was driving a van in a scene, he slammed on the brakes too hard, which caused the van's sliding door to close on Hoskins' hand. The actor can be seen wearing a cast on his hand in some of the shots that remain in the movie.

In a message Leguizamo recorded for a 20th anniversary screening of the movie, he said, "I wanted to look cocky and like a stunt man, so I drove it myself. I hadn't really driven a big truck like that, ever. I grew up in Manhattan, so I didn't learn how to drive until I was 26, so I was a terrible driver, but I didn't want to tell Bob that."

He continued, "So Bob is standing on the side with his hand on the sliding door. I gunned it, right? And they said stop at that mark, and I stopped as hard as I could, and the door came flying out, smashed his poor little Bob Hoskins fingers."

Hoskins listed out all the injuries he endured on the film.

Bob Hoskins at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

According to Screen Rant, Hoskins said during a 1993 interview with Entertainment Tonight, "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."

The actor didn't mince words looking back on Super Mario Bros. in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. "The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario [Bros]. It was a [expletive] 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! [Expletive] nightmare. [Expletive] idiots."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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