Actor Harry Shearer, who voices iconic characters Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, among others, on “The Simpsons,” weighed in Monday on the series announcing it would no longer cast White actors to voice non-White characters.
“I have a very simple belief about acting,” Mr. Shearer said during an interview with Matt Chorley on Times Radio. “The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not.
“That’s the gig. That’s the job description,” he said. “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.
“The job is playing the part of someone you’re not,” he continued. “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.”
Mr. Shearer’s comments came after Fox announced in June during the George Floyd protests that “The Simpsons” would no longer have White actors voice non-White characters, following the news that actor Hank Azaria would no longer voice Indian shop owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon due to its racial stereotypes.
As a result of the change, Mr. Shearer will no longer play the voice of Dr. Julius Hibbert, a Black family doctor in the fictional town of Springfield.
When asked Monday if he thought the show’s decision was a mistake, he said, “I’m not opining publicly on that matter. I mean, frankly, we don’t get paid by the voice.”
The Simpsons actor Harry Shearer tells @timesradio the secret to the sitcom’s success, and which of his many characters is his favourite to play. @MattChorley | @theharryshearer | https://t.co/nTwN679B3O pic.twitter.com/nCkkvUI8eH
— Times Radio (@timesradio) August 3, 2020