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Super Mario's Keegan-Michael Key Relied On Gallons Of Tea To Nail Toad's Voice

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" – the animated film based on Nintendo's "Mario" game franchise — is finally out in the world, having been released on April 5, 2023. One of the most notable aspects of the film is the star-studded voice cast, which features the likes of Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, and Fred Armisen.

On top of all of those names, Keegan-Michael Key is voicing the role of Toad, a mushroom humanoid who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom and longs for a real adventure in his life. If you've already seen the film or the trailer, then you know that Toad's voice is a bit more high-pitched than Key's natural speaking voice is — to the point that you may not recognize Key as the man behind the voice unless you were already aware of the casting.

Naturally, it wasn't exactly easy for Key to keep up with such a high pitch throughout his many lines of the film. In a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Key explained that he had to rely on drinking a lot of hot tea in order to keep up the high pitch voice that directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic wanted for Toad. Key said, "It [was] like, 'How are we going to maintain this?' And I'm thinking, 'I don't know, just gallons of Earl Grey tea and really, really tight pants, I guess."

Key relied on a friend's vocal patterns to find Toad's voice

While speaking to Jimmy Fallon, Keegan-Michael Key explained the process of finding Toad's voice for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" — and it started with impersonating a friend of his. Impersonating the friend then and there, Key explained, "He does this thing with his vocal patterns where he'll emphasize the wrong word in a sentence. Or if he's saying a word, it's always not in the right place. And so I worked with that a little bit."

Key went to the directors, Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, to demonstrate the vocal pattern he was borrowing from his friend, which they liked right away. However, they had one suggestion: for Key to make his voice go higher. Key explained that the directors then asked him to adjust his voice even higher about three total times, leading to the very high-pitched voice he landed on for the role.

In that high-pitched voice, Key said, "I was just like, 'Uh, uh, maintaining it might be a different thing!'" This, of course, led him to the gallons of Earl Grey hot tea.