Despite its never-ending lifespan, The Simpsons has generally managed to keep the same voice actors for its characters over the years, but last year, the show’s producers decided to make a major change for the right reasons. It was announced that Springfield’s non-white residents would no longer be voiced by white performers. Earlier in the currently unfolding season 32, Hank Azaria was replaced by Alex Desert as Homer’s buddy Carl Carlson. And now, a new actor for Dr. Julius Hibbert, the town’s resident physician, has been revealed.
As per The Wrap, 20th Century Fox has confirmed that this weekend’s episode will be the last to star Simpsons vet Harry Shearer as Hibbert, with the role being taken over by Kevin Michael Richardson from now on. The legendary voice actor has been bringing bit-part characters to life on the show for the past few years, but this is his first major gig.
“Last night’s episode ‘Diary Queen’ featured Harry Shearer as the voice of Dr. Hibbert for the last time,” the studio said in a statement. “Next Sunday’s episode ‘Wad Goals’ will have Kevin Michael Richardson voicing Dr. Hibbert — and from there on out he will voice the character.”
Unlike Azaria, who also volunteered to step aside as Apu prior to the show’s new rule, Hibbert’s recasting did not come with the blessing of Shearer, who blasted the decision to recast The Simpsons‘ black characters, arguing that actors should be allowed to play “someone who they’re not.” He did advocate for better representation in the writing and producing areas, however. Despite this disagreement, Shearer remains on board the series as his many other regular characters, like Mr. Burns, Smithers and Ned Flanders.
Although he was retired first, a new actor has yet to be found for Apu, with the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor instead quietly written out for now. Other characters still to be recast include Chief Wiggum’s deputy Lou, boxer Drederik Tatum, Apu’s wife Manjula and Lisa’s friend Janey.
The Simpsons season 32 continues next Sunday on FOX.
Source: The Wrap