Cheech Marin turned down an offer from Nintendo to be Super Mario.

The Japanese company was able to become the dominant force in the home video game market in the 1980s with the release of the now classic platformer 'Super Mario Bros.' in 1985, which helped shift millions of Nintendo Entertainment System consoles, especially in North America.

The game introduced moustached hero Mario and his brother Luigi to the world and the pixelated plumbers have gone on to become pop culture icons, appearing in sequel games on every new console released by Nintendo, including the recent Switch.

The title also spawned a host of spin-off material, including comic books, an animated TV series and even a film, which hit cinemas in 1993 and starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi and Dennis Hopper as a human King Koopa - a character inspired by the turtle-like Bowser, King of the Koopa, who is the main antagonist in the games.

Comedy legend Cheech - who, along with his comic partner Tommy Chong, are credited with inventing the 'stoner film' genre - has now revealed he was approached by Nintendo in the 80s to take on the character but he turned it down.

The offer would have also seen him earn royalties from revenue made from Mario-related products, meaning his snub has cost him millions of dollars.

In an exclusive interview with Forbes.com, Cheech, 71, said: ''I turned down a few video games when they were first starting out. They wanted me to be this character and it turned out the character they were asking me to be was Mario of the Mario Bros.''

The revelation was even unknown to his friend Tommy, 79, who, in the joint interview, asked: ''What? Are you kidding? Holy s**t! You could have been Mario?''

Replying, Cheech then reiterated the offer, saying: ''It was because he had this moustache, you know? It was for real. They were going to give me a cut of the royalties and everything.''

Still reeling from his comedy partner's revelation, a stunned Tommy exclaimed: ''Oh my God! I didn't know that.''

The pair were being interviewed to talk about the 40th anniversary of their cult classic film 'Up in Smoke', which was directed Lou Adler.

Go to Forbes.com to read the full interview.