The Simpsons actor Harry Shearer is to be replaced as the voice of Dr. Hibbert by Kevin Michael Richardson, known for his work on Family Guy.
Shearer voiced Dr. Hibbert on Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons, titled DiaryQueen, for the final time. Next week’s episode Wad Goals will feature Kevin Michael Richardson in the role.
This latest recasting comes after Simpsons producers said in June 2020 that white actors will no longer play non-white characters. Prior to that, Hank Azaria voiced the Indian character Apu for years, drawing backlash among fans and the South Asian community.
Azaria stepped down from the role in January 2020, and he was also replaced by Black voice actor Alex Désert as Carl Carlson in a fall 2020 episode.
Back in August of last year, in an interview with Times Radio host Matt Chorley, Shearer questioned the idea that voice casting non-white characters should be based on race.
In the interview, asked about actors voicing non-white characters and whether the show’s recent decision to recast characters of color was the right choice, he replied –
“I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not. That’s the gig.”
“That’s the job description. 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 decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge… and performance.”
“In performance, as I say, the job is playing the part of someone you’re not. I’m not a rich nuclear plant owner. I’m not a Bible-believing Christian who lives next door to Homer. I’m not any of those people.”
Last year, white actors also stopped voicing non-white characters in other animated US shows including Family Guy, Central Park and Big Mouth.
Shearer will continue to play Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner.