Harry Shearer Steps Down from Voicing Dr. Hibbert on 'The Simpsons'
Kevin Michael Richardson, a Black voice actor who currently plays Cleveland Brown Jr. on 'Family Guy,' will take his place
Published Feb 22, 2021After making a big fuss over The Simpsons creators' decision to recast voice acting roles to be more race-appropriate, Harry Shearer — who is white — will officially no longer voice the role of Springfield's Black doctor, Dr. Hibbert.
The character has now been recast, with Family Guy and The Cleveland Show voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson, a Black man who voices the shows' Cleveland Brown Jr., stepping in to fill the role going forward.
"Last night's episode 'DiaryQueen' featured Harry Shearer as the voice of Dr. Hibbert for the last time," a rep from 20th Television told TheWrap in a statement. "Next Sunday's episode 'Wad Goals' will have Kevin Michael Richardson voicing Dr. Hibbert — and from there on out he will voice the character."
In the wake of race-related protests against police brutality last summer, The Simpsons' creators vowed to do away with casting white actors playing non-white characters. At the time, Shearer put up a stink about the decision, saying, "I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they're not."
He added: "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."
Despite the dispute over the topic last year, Shearer has yet to make a public statement about this latest development.
The Simpsons' casting has long been the subject of controversy, most notably after Hari Kondabolu famously called out the series showrunners in his documentary The Problem with Apu. In the documentary, Kondabolu interviews South Asian people to talk about the negative impact that stereotypical representations in the show, including that of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu, had on them.
Following extensive public debate, Apu's longtime voice actor, Hank Azaria, who is white, stepped down from the role about a year ago. He later revealed that he ever regretted taking the role.