'The Simpsons' Star Harry Shearer Disagrees with Show's Plan to Stop Letting White Actors Voice Non-White Characters
"The job of the actor is to play someone who they're not"
Published Aug 04, 2020When they're not predicting most of modern life, The Simpsons have also spent recent years embroiled in a controversy about representation. After a lengthy public debate, Hank Azaria finally announced he would no longer voice Apu on the show. Then it was revealed that all of the show's non-white characters would be voiced by non-white actors. This decision does not exactly sit well with Harry Shearer, who voices half of the characters on the show.
In an interview with Times Radio, Shearer said that he didn't agree with the show's decision to recast non-white characters. "I have a very simple belief about acting," he said. "The job of the actor is to play someone who they're not."
Shearer added that he's not "opining" on whether or not the show has made a mistake with this decision, but he did say that playing multiple characters is "the gig." Shearer went on say that he's not speaking in self-interest, explaining, "We don't get paid by the voice."
"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," he said. "The job is playing someone I'm not."
Despite voicing approximately half of the show's characters, Shearer's relationship with The Simpsons has been strained over the years. In 2015, he publicly quit the show over a contract dispute that was quickly settled, at which point he returned.