Kevin Richardson, the new voice actor for Dr Hibbert in The Simpsons, has revealed he didn’t accept the role when he was first asked.
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The actor, whose also worked on The Cleveland Show and American Dad, said in a new interview that he felt “very fortunate” to have been asked despite initially turning it down.
“The overall goal was to at least stay in the ball park of Mr Shearer’s performance,” Richardson told the BBC, referring to Harry Shearer who voiced Dr Hibbert for 30 years.
“I was just very fortunate to be asked to play the role, which I must say about a year ago I declined, but I was asked again and I just said ‘yes’. But I had no idea the impact it would have on fans and so many viewers. I just want to have fun with it,” he said.
Richardson, who made his debut in Wad Goals (episode 13, season 32) on Sunday (February 28), is the first Black actor to voice Dr Hibbert in the long-running cartoon comedy. His replacement with Shearer came after producers decided last year that white actors would no longer play non-white characters on the show.
The Simpsons previously came under fire for its use of white actors to play people of colour, particularly Hank Azaria’s depiction of Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.