Harry Shearer Questions ‘The Simpsons’ Voice Recasting
In response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the entertainment industry has done some serious reevaluating of their practices in regards to race. Perhaps most specifically is the decision by several animated television programs to replace white voice actors playing people of color with voice actors of the correct ethnicity. Harry Shearer, who plays a myriad of characters on The Simpsons including the African American physician Dr. Hibbert, has spoken up about the matter in an interview on Times Radio. “I have a very simple belief about acting," said Shearer. “The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not.”
Shearer made it clear that he was not “opining” on whether or not the producers made a mistake. Rather, he believes that diversity should be more prominent behind the scenes. “People from all backgrounds should be represented in the writing and producing ends of the business so they help decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge,” he said. In regards to his playing a range of characters: “That’s the gig. That’s the job description.”
In addition to Dr. Hibbert, Shearer voices several other Springfield residents: Principal Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, and Waylon Smithers. In the interview, he also noted that cast members “don’t get paid by the voice,” meaning his opinion on the show’s recasting isn’t motivated by a larger paycheck. The Simpsons joins Central Park, Big Mouth, and Family Guy on the list of shows that have made new casting choices for characters of color.
Gallery — Every Simpsons Chalkboard Gag In History: