Hank Azaria Is Holding Out Hope for Harry Shearer’s Return to The Simpsons

Hank Azaria. Photo: Steve Mack/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Since May, when Harry Shearer announced his departure from The Simpsons after a contract dispute, fans have wondered how the show might continue without the man who voices Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, and so many other pivotal characters. Well, perhaps there’s hope! On Thursday night, Vulture spoke with fellow Simpsons actor Hank Azaria at the Garden of Dreams talent show, who believes we haven’t seen (or rather, heard) the last of Shearer. “You know, I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s gone,” Azaria said. “We’re very hopeful that something gets worked out. I’m not giving up on this.”

Would Azaria or other cast members consider divvying up those voices, should Shearer’s departure prove permanent? “I don’t think we’ve gotten that far yet — we’re either very hopeful or in denial, we’ll see,” said Azaria, who conceded, “If he really doesn’t come back, the show has to continue in some way at least for a while ... Maybe we’ll do a YouTube thing, like how they found that Asian guy that sings for Journey.” Despite these ruminations, he remains optimistic: “We’ll jump off that bridge when we get to it. Harry, if you’re reading this, please come back!”