Fans of “The Simpsons” might notice one character sounds different in the Season 32 premiere Sunday.
Carl Carlson, Homer Simpson’s nuclear plant co-worker and Lenny Leonard’s best friend, will not be voiced by Hank Azaria, at least in the season premiere episode.
Carl will now be voiced by actor Alex Désert, according to Variety, although it’s unclear whether this is a permanent replacement.
Désert, 52, also voices Swarm on Disney XD’s “Spider-Man: Maximum Venom” and Mr. Bojenkins on Adult Swim’s “Mr. Pickles.” He can also be seen in “The Flash,” “Becker” and “Better Call Saul,” and is the lead singer in the ska band Hepcat.
The switch comes as producers for “The Simpsons” said earlier this summer that it will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters. Azaria has been the voice of Carl, who is black, since the beginning of the show, except Carl’s first appearance, where he was voiced by Harry Shearer.
Shearer previously said in an interview that he didn’t exactly agree with the decision.
“The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not,” he told Times Radio in August, suggesting there was a “conflation” between representation and performance.
The change might affect other recurring characters as well, including Dr. Julius Hibbert, who will appear in this episode but doesn’t speak.
Azaria, 56, was also known for voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a character that was criticized for its stereotypical depiction of a South Asian man. Azaria announced in January he would no longer voice Apu.
“The Simpsons” started an effort to make this change in recent years, with Kevin Michael Richardson of “The Cleveland Show” often voicing the show’s black male characters.
The decision to have characters of color be voiced by actors of color came after the nation was dealing with controversial depictions of race on TV. Many television shows made similar decisions over the summer. Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell stepped away from voicing black and biracial characters, and other shows pulled episodes featuring blackface from streaming platforms.
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