How Does Matt Groening Feel About ‘The Simpsons’ Recasting It’s Classic Characters

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Much to my surprise, The Simpsons has recast Dr. Hibbert, though they recast him with the most obvious choice, Kevin Michael Richardson, who is already doing voices for most episodes nowadays. The reason that The Simpsons is able to have so many characters is that they have incredible voice actors like Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria who can do a bunch of different voices for many different characters. Richardson is a similarly talented voice actor, which is good because having to call a different guest actor for every Springfield resident would just be untenable.

I personally think it’s unnecessary to recast cartoon characters because their voice actor is a different race. There hasn’t really been any sort of demand for this to happen, mind you; the only character anyone really complained about was Apu, and he hasn’t been recast, just written off the show like he’s Herman or Mr. Largo.

Simpsons creator Matt Groening talked to the BBC recently and the topic of these changing voice actors came up.

“Times change,” Matt tells us, “but I actually didn’t have a problem with the way we were doing it.

“All of our actors play dozens of characters each, it was never designed to exclude anyone.”

Asked whether he regrets how they handled it, Matt says: “At a certain point it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re going to be attacked by whoever, you know?

“We’re not going out of our way to comfort bigots. On the other hand, if you do any kind of gesture and people perceive a weakness, you’ll be criticised.”

I agree with Matt, for the most part. You have to do what you think makes the best show. If The Simpsons had to have a different actor for every character, there would be fewer characters. And while it is good that more African-American voice actors are getting work, Kevin Michael Richardson was already a voice actor on The Simpsons. They’ve basically just shifted the work from one existing staffer to another.

Of course, Harry Shearer is starting to get on in years, and as much as we love the guy… maybe it’s better for him that he has less work to do and other actors can pick up the slack.

But honestly, replacing voice actors without seriously reconsidering the writing staff of The Simpsons is a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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