Harry Shearer, the voice behind Mr. Burns, Dr. Hibbert, Ned Flanders and many others, is speaking out after producers announced white actors will no longer voice characters of colour on “The Simpsons”.
Shearer, 76, has been a voice on the long-running animated series since 1989. Now, in a new interview with Times Radio, the actor appeared to criticize the decision, explaining that the job of an actor is to play outside of their own lived experience.
“I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not. That’s the gig, that’s the job description,” he says.
While Shearer adds that he doesn’t have anything in common with a number of the characters he plays, including Otto, Waylon Smithers and Reverend Lovejoy, the “This Is Spinal Tap” actor also says the decision to stop voicing Dr. Hibbert won’t affect his day-to-day too much since “we don’t get paid by the voice.”
“The Simpsons” previously came under fire for Hank Azaria’s culturally outdated portrayal of Indian shopkeeper Apu. The actor announced he will stop providing the voice in January of this year. Azaria also provides the voices of Bumbleeman and Black police officer Lou.
Entering its 32nd season, “The Simpsons” is one of a number of animated series that have announced that white actors will no longer voice characters of colour, including “Family Guy”, “Big Mouth”, “The Cleveland Show”, and “Central Park”.