“The Simpsons” has found its new Carl Carlson.
In the season premiere of Fox’s long-running animated comedy, Carl is voiced by Alex Désert, who takes over the role from Hank Azaria. Fox said in June it would no longer have white actors voice people of color.
Azaria, who voices numerous characters for “The Simpsons” is stepping back from the role. Mike Henry made a similar decision when he stepped down as the voice of Cleveland Brown on “Family Guy.”
Azaria had voiced Carl, who is Black, since the show’s beginning. It is not clear if Désert will be the permanent voice for the character going forward. “We are very pleased to welcome Alex Désert, playing Carl in ‘The Simpsons’ season premiere,” the show said in a statement.
This is not the first time “The Simpsons” has had to reckon with race in voice casting. Azaria announced back in January that he would stop voicing the Indian American convenience-store proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after taking heavy criticism, including in a 2017 documentary titled “The Problem With Apu” by comedian Hari Kondabolu.
“My eyes have been opened,” Azaria said in an interview about the criticism at the time. “I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it [is].”