The Simpsons star Harry Shearer, who plays a host of characters including Dr. Julius Hibbert, Montgomery Burns, and Principal Seymour Skinner, has expressed what appears to be a critical view of the Fox show’s recent decision to forbid white actors from voicing non-white characters.
Speaking to the Times Radio, Shearer laid out his personal philosophy about the profession. “I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not,” said Shearer. “That’s the gig, that’s the job description.”
The Simpsons decided in the midst of the Black Lives Matter riots in June that white actors would no longer be allowed to play non-white animated roles. The show’s new casting rule presumably means that Shearer will no longer play Dr. Hibbert or Judge Roy Snyder, who are black.
The rule would also appear to impact actor Hank Azaria, who voices the roles of Carl Carlson, who is black, and the Bumblebee Man, who is Latino. Earlier this year, Azaria gave up the role of Apu, the Kwik-E Mart convenience store clerk, following media criticism of his portrayal of the Indian character.
Harry Shearer told the Times Radio that he won’t take a financial hit by the change in rules. “We don’t get paid by the voice,” he said.
The BLM riots have set off a wave of panic in Hollywood, where studios and networks have been busy purging their content of anything that may possibly be deemed offensive.
Voice actor Mike Henry said in June that he is stepping down from his role as the black character Cleveland Brown on Fox’s popular animated show Family Guy.