Last week the world was treated to news that animated series “Futurama” is going to be revived by Hulu for a new 20-episode run. We were happy to share in the excitement, and even more excited to find out that most of the voice cast was returning. That being said, we also gave a collective “hmm” with the rest of the universe when Bender’s voice actor, John DiMaggio, was conspicuously missing from the cast list.
It’s been roughly a week since the announcement, the actor behind the drunken robot with a salty attitude has opened up about his stance on the matter.
DiMaggio posted the following statement as a tweet, commenting on the widespread belief he’d refused the gig due to wages.
DiMaggio doesn’t “think that only I need to be paid more. I think the entire cast does.” Why is he talking about the entire “Futurama” cast when he’s the only one who declined to reappear? Well, that answer comes to us from a tweet made by DiMaggio’s wife, Kate Miller, which linkts to an article from Entertainment Weekly. DiMaggio himself retweeted it, seemingly confirming its legitimacy.
The EW article discusses how a round of offers were sent out to DiMaggio as well as his main co-stars Billy West and Katey Sagal. West and Sagal accepted the offers, with DiMaggio declining. He also stated the offered wages were not competitive with the current market and the legacy of the show itself. Naturally, we don’t know what the offer is, so it’s hard to know if DiMaggio is being truthful on the matter or just playing hardball because he feels he can. EW states that these talks fell apart in November, so at the time of this writing its been easily three months since talks have happened.
We do know that auditions have been happening for possible replacement actors. Considering production is supposed to be taking place in March, this leaves very little time for negotiations to begin again.
Negotiations are part and parcel of the entertainment business, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise for either side of the negotiating table to be doing what they’re doing. Of course someone might want more money, and of course a studio will want to reduce costs; but which party is the unreasonable one in this case? DiMaggio knew what the fan reaction would be to him not playing Bender. Maybe he was waiting for the announcement to be made so that the fan outcry would buoy his chances at a better deal. If so, it’s a shrewd move but a bit of a risk as well.
There’s also the question of if DiMaggio legitimately thinks the entire cast should be paid more, or if that’s a deflection for him wanting to be paid more. Again, without us seeing the terms of the deal, all of those details are complete conjecture.
No matter what, it would be a very hard pill for many fans to swallow if Bender was voiced by someone else. Things could get very interesting in the next few weeks, so if updates happen, we’ll notify you as we learn of them whether it’s “Good news, everyone!” Or “Bad news, everyone…”