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The student news site of Emmaus High School



Reinventing voice acting

Canva by Cyan Kvacky

This story previously ran in our October 2023 print issue.

Voice acting is an art providing the voices heard in popular video games, TV shows, and movies, but has changed exponentially in the past several years.

One of the most popular voices heard today was Justin Roiland’s. His voice for the show “Rick and Morty” was his masterpiece. Roiland also worked on “The Most Extraordinary Space Investigations” with Dan Harmon, the other co-creator of “Rick and Morty” with Roiland.

Roiland, who was best known for his roles of Earl of Lemongrab from “Adventure Time” and Oscar Fishtooth from “Fish Hooks” before his breakout series with “Rick and Morty” was replaced after Roiland faced a series of domestic violence charges.

However, there are plenty of reasons why a voice actor can get removed from their role. Disputes about contracts, allegations against actors or simply leaving after their contract ends all lead to replacements. Roiland was fired from Adult Swim, the network where his show “Rick and Morty” currently resides, back in late January. He also parted ways with Hulu, who runs his other project, “Solar Opposites,” on the same day. Immediately after his departure from the show, fans were left wondering if it would continue without the co-creator and voice of the two main protagonists of the show, Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith, as well as many other smaller roles.

Adult Swim announced the continuation of “Rick and Morty,” with season seven dropping on Oct. 15. But the question was still up in the air, who would replace Roiland? The show’s other co-creator, now showrunner, Dan Harmon was put to a difficult task in finding the new voices of his show’s most popular characters.

On Sept. 25, Adult Swim posted to their YouTube “Rick and Morty | Season 7 Official Trailer | Adult Swim.” This would be the first time the world would hear the new voices of their most beloved characters, which resulted in mixed reactions. The Emmy-winning science fiction comedy was met with backlash over the handling of the new voices, as they chose to keep the voice actor’s names private until the new season aired.

When the new season was released to Hulu on Oct. 15, new voice actors came with it. Ian Cardoni was casted as the new Rick; Cardoni had previously been in smaller roles, playing a unnamed barista in “Clear History,” and an uncredited water park guest in “Grown Ups.” Harry Belden plays the new Morty; he also played small roles in his past, playing a security guard in an episode of “Joe Pera Talks with You,” and the role of Kyle Henderson in an episode of “Chicago Med.”

The roles of Rick and Morty were both the first big acting gigs for Cardoni and Belden, but both are up to the challenge of filling the hole left by Roiland’s departure. “Excited. Grateful. Schwifty,” replied Cardoni to Newsweek when asked about his new role as Rick.

Fans were split into three different groups on the new voices: people who believe Adult Swim got it right, and people who believe Roiland was wrongly replaced. While Roiland was found innocent of all accusations made against him, brands like Adult Swim and Hulu didn’t want the bad reputation that comes with Roiland’s name.

Some replacements aren’t made because of the voice actor themselves, but rather to adapt to the changing social climate in America. Popular characters of color in animated cartoons are Carl Carlson and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from “The Simpsons” and Cleveland Brown from “Family Guy,” which both had white actors to voice these characters.

In 2020, the original voice for Carlson and Nahasapeemapetilon, Hank Azaria, announced that after 32 seasons he would no longer voice the two characters. He would be replaced with Alex Desert, to voice Carlson, at the start of season 33. While Azaria left the door open for a new voice actor for Nahasapeemapetilon, no new voice actor has been named, and the character hasn’t had new dialogue since 2017.

The recasting of Nahsapeemapetilon was first brought up in the documentary “The Problem With Apu,” produced in 2017 by Hari Kondabolu, an Indian-American comic. The documentary had the comic confront the cartoon stereotype and the larger issue of depictions of South Asian communities in Western Culture.

While many fans supported the decisions made by Azaria, they still wanted to see their favorite cartoon convenience store owner have a role in the show. Nahasappemapetilon has only appeared as a background character, with his latest showing in 2022. “The Simpsons” creator, Matt Groening, fought to protect the character, but in the end Nahasapeemapetilon would still end up getting written out of the show.         

In 2020, Mike Henry, the original voice of Brown, announced on X (formally known as Twitter), that after 19 seasons playing the iconic character, he was stepping down. In the post, he made it clear by stating “Persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.” The role was filled by impressionist Arif Zahir.

To voice acting, recasting is the fundamental stepping stone to making projects come to life, and is vital to the creation and the prolonging of a project.

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About the Contributor
Colin Strella
Colin Strella, Staff Writer
This is Colin's second year on The Stinger. He is a member of National Honor Society, Hornet Ambassadors, and a team manager for Emmaus High School's football, swimming & diving, and baseball teams. Outside of school, Colin is a D11 Sports Student Reporter and enjoys drawing, writing about sports, and playing video games.

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