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Why Luigi From The Super Mario Bros. Movie Sounds So Familiar

Grab your overalls and your Kupa shells — the first trailer for Illumination's upcoming "Super Mario Bros." animated film is finally here. While some are now even less convinced that Chris Pratt of "Guardians of the Galaxy" fame can pull off the iconic voice of the world's most famous Italian plumber, there was still a lot to love about this first glimpse of the film. From the stunningly vibrant visuals to Jack Black's spot-on portrayal of Bowser, Nintendo fans should be in pretty high spirits.

In the trailer's ending "stinger," we also get to see Luigi running away from what looks to be a horde of Dry Bones and hiding in some sort of moody building — perhaps a haunted mansion? Mario's brother will be played by Charlie Day, an accomplished actor, writer, producer, and comedian who achieved widespread acclaim for his role in the FX series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Though many are well aware of the Day's "Sunny" character, they may be less familiar with his equally impressive body of voice work.

A Pixar Prequel

In the 2013 Disney-Pixar film "Monsters University," Charlie Day plays Art, a "New Age Philosophy" major and member of the Oozma Kappa fraternity. The film was a prequel to the 2001 feature "Monsters Inc.," both films exploring a world built and inhabited by sociable monsters who live out of the ordinary lives.

When Day was offered the part, he wasn't given much information about the project or the character — according to him, they simply asked (via Collider), "Do you want to be in a Pixar movie?" "I think they understood the leverage that they had because I said yes, immediately," Day said of the experience.

The actor's first animated Disney film, Day was excited to join the Pixar pantheon of voice actors. "I've always wanted to do it. I always love hearing Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and all of these wonderful actors doing such great performances," he told Collider. He went on to say that during his first meeting with the studio about the character, they had animated Art to voice clips from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," giving him a clear picture of what the creators wanted. 

Director Dan Scanlon described Art (via The Pixar Times) as that "college guy you don't know anything about." Day himself theorizes that Art isn't even going to Monsters University — "I have a suspicion that he's not actually a student at that college. He's a drifter. He might have gotten off the railroads and wandered into Oozma Kappa," he told Collider. Day also voiced Art in the 2014 animated short "Party Central" and the "toys-to-life" game "Disney Infinity."

A cameo in a modern classic

For fans of more adult animation, Charlie Day had a voice cameo in a Season 8 episode of the long-running series "American Dad." In an episode titled "Adventures in Hayleysitting," Day voices Jon, a hockey fan who is addicted to crystal meth. According to IMDb, the story revolves around the character Steve sneaking out to a party after his sister Hayley is left home to watch him.

One fan on Reddit felt that the character was included as a call out to fans of Day's work on "It's Always Sunny in Philidelphia." u/VictorBlimpmuscle wrote, "[Jon is] shown wearing a Philadelphia Flyers jersey — a nod to Day being one of the main cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." It was likely not a coincidence, given that the episode aired in 2012 — well after the FX series had become a cult hit. The same episode also featured a cameo from "Bojack Horseman" and "Glow" star Alison Brie.

Spaceship, spaceship, spaceship!

One of Charlie Day's most well-known animated characters — possibly even his most recognizable character yet — is Benny the spaceman in the surprise 2014 hit "The Lego Movie." At one point the second best-animated movie ever according to IMDb, "The Lego Movie" turned a clear movies-as-marketing play into a genuinely moving piece of entertainment that celebrated everything parents and children loved about Lego.

Despite the overwhelming critical response, however, the film failed to secure an Oscar nomination for best animated feature film at the 87th Academy Awards — in a crowded pack that included Laika's "The Boxtrolls" and the sequel to "How to Train Your Dragon," Disney's superhero adventure "Big Hero 6" won out. "Ten years of It's Always Sunny being overlooked [by the Emmys], you can't help but feel like you're awards poison," Day joked to IGN, inferring that he was the reason the film got snubbed. In the same interview, he reflected fondly on his work in the film, stating, "I love [directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord]. Those guys are the greatest. And I love that character. I was so grateful they called me and asked me to do that. ... Movies and television aren't sports, so I don't know, but I feel they're sleeping well at night knowing they made a pretty incredible cartoon."

In 2014, it seemed as though the animated blockbuster was set to kick off a mega-franchise — yet, even with a similarly lauded follow-up in "The Lego Batman Movie," subsequent films in the franchise saw rapidly diminishing critical and commercial returns. Despite Warner Bros. still owning the rights to Benny and other "Lego Movie" characters, the studio ultimately lost the distribution rights for all Lego films — effectively killing the future of Emmett, Batman, and his brick buddies.