Harry Shearer Gives A Puzzling Response To ‘The Simpsons’ Not Letting White Actors Voice Non-White Characters

In early 2020, Hank Azaria announced that he would no longer voice Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons. “What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore,” he said. Apu wasn’t the only Simpsons character voiced by a white actor, though, and in June, producers released a statement saying that “moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.” (Family Guy, Big Mouth, and Central Park followed suit.)

Harry Shearer doesn’t sound like a fan of this decision.

Shearer, who voiced Dr. Hibbert and Judge Snyder, among other non-white characters, told the Times Radio, “I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not. That’s the gig, that’s the job description.” When asked if he would get paid less for not voicing Hibbert, he replied, “We’re not paid by the voice”:

“I think there’s a conflation between representation, which is important — 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 — and performance.”

Shearer never straight-up says he disagrees with the “no longer have white actors voice non-white characters” mandate, but the subtext is there. It’s a puzzling response, especially from someone who once quit the show. This whole thing, like the low-blow response to The Problem with Apu, could have been avoided by Shearer simply saying (and genuinely meaning), “I welcome a Black actor voicing a Black character.”

He’s getting paid, either way.

(Via the Times Radio)