How To Address Recasting Of Voice Actors In Modern Animation

When it comes to animation, the need to recast voices are a regular issue that animated works have to deal with.

Whether it be based on wage contract issues, aging out of voices, or changes in culture, there is a regular need for voice actors to either take over, by imitating the work of the prior voice, or change it by making it their own.

Wage Contract Issues

With regards to wage issues, this is usually the most unappreciated version that the fans refuse to accept. This almost happened with Futurama with regards to John DiMaggio and returning as Bender, see our article on that Here. In that situation, public opinion and contract negotiations won out. John DiMaggio returned as Bender, and everyone was happy about it!

If there had been another cast voice, people would be very upset about it.

Aging Out Of Voices

Eric Bauza is the seventh voice actor to take on the role of Bugs Bunny. With time the role must be replaced with another actor. Because the role recast is more an homage then a replacement in contention, the desire to be similar in sound is paramount for a character as well known as Bugs Bunny. To prepare for this role, Bauza specifically studied the performance of Mel Blanc, the original voice of Bugs Bunny.

Changes in this way are more acceptable to be reproductions and imitations, without it being considered an affront.

Changes In Culture

When dealing with the topic of cultural shifts toward recasting, there are a lot of reasons to do so, either racial representation, or public opinion can force the network to need to change the voice actor.

Matt Groening in regards to Apu, voiced by Hank Azaria, states that he has no plans to retire or recast Apu with an Indian voice actor in spite of public outcry to do so. So… That’s one way to address the issue. With regards to Leo Wong in the new Hulu season of Futurama, voice actor Billy West who voices so many people in the series stepped down and allowed Feodor Chin to take over the role.

Another such result of cultural shift was when people negatively reacted to Jenny Slate playing Missy, a black pre-teen in Netflix’s Big Mouth. In season four the show had a whole episode dedicated to the topic of code switching in black communities and ended the episode with Jenny handling the role over to Ayo Edebiri, a black person, in probably the most respectful and well thought through voice recasting.

One pretty recent issue is Justin Roiland’s controversy and his work within the world of animation. While the criminal charges were dropped against him in Orange County, the issues that were raised in the public with regards to grooming and inappropriate treatment towards minors have soured not only fans to the creator, but also the networks against him.

Solar Opposites

Specifically with regards to Solar Opposites, they in the first second of the new season have Terry throw a dart into the throat of Korvo, normally voiced by Roiland. As most solutions in Solar Opposites go, they turn to a ray to resolve the injury, and in doing so accidently change Korvo to British, with colloquialisms in all. The new voice is performed by Dan Stevens.

They so abruptly and instantly change the voice, they are unapologetic about it. They are instant with it, and they even make a joke about how the ray has tachyon particles in it, so all flashbacks will now also have him with a British voice. Stating, if you have a problem with it, tough it’s Science.

While this is so rough, abrupt, and aggressive with their decision, it is actually amazingly done, appropriate within the world, and just fun.

Rick And Morty

No specific name has been listed for the series, but the general vibe given from the producers is that the roles will be recast with the idea that the voices will provide similar if not imitations of Rick and Morty, normally voiced by Justin Roiland.

While I plan to not judge without seeing the new season, I don’t know if this is the right choice for the series. With regards to the choices made with Solar Opposites, it seems a bit more respectful to the fans, without making it seem like they are still aping on the prior work of Roiland.

Do you agree that Solar Opposites made a great choice? What way would you prefer the producers do for the voice acting on Rick and Morty?

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