A conversation with Shigeru Miyamoto -- The ''Super Mario'' designer talks about American movies, bluegrass, and Les Paul at the Iridium

By EW Staff
Updated December 18, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

You might not know him, but you know his kids. Shigeru Miyamoto, 46, is the father/designer of Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and a host of other videogames (including the current Nintendo 64 hit The Legend of Zelda), all of which have sold, in total, more than 250 million game cartridges. During a recent visit to New York City, Nintendo’s most powerful weapon took time to talk to EW about fame, American culture — and Les Paul.

What’s it like to be so admired from the top of the industry to kids in the street?
I’m flattered and honored, [but] I don’t have a conspicuous face, so even in a small country like Japan I have no troubles.

Do you follow American movies and pop culture?
Their way of advertising impresses me. I must admit that I am often attracted to [American] movies only to leave unsatisfied. I love Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark [though], because the editing in that film is excellent.

I hear you’re really into Bluegrass
It helps me to relax when I’m not dwelling on creating the next game. That’s why I have taken up the banjo, which I have been playing for quite a while. When I am in the U.S. I try to catch whatever shows I can.

Really? You’d probably also like guitarist Les Paul’s shows at the Iridium every Monday.
[Stunned] Les Paul? Is he still alive? Wow! He’s a legend! [Pause] Tonight, we are going to see Blue Man Group.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.
Yeah, but I sure wish it was Monday.