The Simpsons announced last summer that the show was in a state of casting change, as white actors no longer voiced colorful characters on the show, including characters like Apu, Carl, and Dr. Hibbert. The new Dr. Julius Hebert was selected by the deadline. Kevin Michael Richardson will play the character as she moves forward, replacing actor Harry Shearer in the role. He will take over the role starting with the episode scheduled to air on Sunday 28 February 2021.
Richardson is a veteran voice actor with over 30 years and over 500 credits to his name. He has voiced characters in the DC and Marvel worlds, as well as Star Wars, Transformers, Mortal Kombat, Family Guy, and many more. He also has 76 The Simpsons episodes under his belt, dating back to 2009.
Actor Harry Shearer started voicing Dr. Hebert when he made his debut over 30 years ago, and he also plays – and will continue to play – other major characters including Ned Flanders, Director Skinner, and Mr. Burns. The final episode of Shearer voicing Hibbert aired last night, February 21.
The casting of voice actors, especially on The Simpsons, has started to receive more attention at least since 2017, with the release of the documentary “The Trouble With Apu”. Although creator Matt Groening was initially dismissive of the criticism – the Simpsons even sparked controversy with an episode that mocked her in 2018 – the movement began to gain traction. Since then, white actors have moved away from playing colorful characters in Family Guy’s Cleveland Brown animated shows to characters in newer shows, like Big Mouth Missy.
In The Simpsons in particular, Hank Azaria has already quit voicing the Indian character Apu, although Fox has yet to announce a new cast for the role. Another character with Azaria’s voice, Karl, is now voiced by Alex Désert. Azaria also continues to voice characters like Moe, Chief Wiggam, and Super Nintendo Chalmers.
Actor Harry Shearer expressed his opposition last August, stating that “an actor’s job is to play someone who isn’t.” But he added that “people of all backgrounds should be represented in writing and producing work endings in order to help decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge.” The job is to play someone who I’m not.