Actor Kevin Michael Richardson is set to become the next voice of Dr. Julius Hibbert on The Simpsons. For years, actor Harry Shearer had voiced the character, but the show has moved away from white actors voicing Black characters. Most notably, actor Hank Azaria stepped away from his role as convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
"I know that he has taken the decision really seriously, and he really, really wanted to end up on the right side of the argument and do something that he personally could live with and be proud of," actress Yeardley Smith said about her former co-star's decision to step away from his longtime role.
"We all really love Apu, and we meant no harm, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t cause any harm."
Hibbert is not the only character to be recast. One of Homer Simpson's co-workers, Carl Carlson. The character, Kumiko Albertson, will also be recast. Meanwhile, Shearer will continue his run as Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns. These recent changes come as a surprise considering Shearer's past comments regarding representation on the show.
“There’s a conflation between representation, which is important,” Shearer said.
“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. The job is playing someone I’m not.”
In spite of Shearer's misguided comments, the show will move forward with revamping its cast. The show will return for the 13th episode of their 32nd season February 28.
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