Futurama’s John DiMaggio on ‘Bendergate’: ‘It’s About Self-Respect’

Futurama’s John DiMaggio on ‘Bendergate’: ‘It’s About Self-Respect’
Screenshot: 20th Animation

Last week, the joyous announcement that 20th Animation and Hulu were reviving Futurama for an eighth season was almost instantly marred by the discovery that voice actor John DiMaggio, who played the iconic character of Bender on the series, was suspiciously absent from the list of the show’s returning cast. Now DiMaggio has issued a statement clarifying why he hasn’t come aboard the new series, but that he’s still “hoping for the best.”

DiMaggio released his message in full on Twitter last night and as was earlier reported, DiMaggio’s hold-out isn’t about believing he deserves to be paid more than his fellow voice actors, but that they all deserve to be paid more for their work on the immensely popular, constantly resurrected animated series. Here it is, verbatim:

“I’ve been thinking about everything going on these past months, and just to be clear I don’t think that only I deserve to be paid more. I think the entire cast does. Negotiations are a natural part of working in show business. Everyone has a different strategy & different boundaries. Their ‘price.’ Some accept offers, some hold their ground. Bender is part of my soul & nothing about this is meant to be disrespectful to the fans or my Futurama family. It’s about self-respect. And honestly, being tired of an industry that’s become far too corporate and takes advantage of artist’s time & talent. Look, I wish I could give you every detail so you would understand, but it’s not my place. Thanks again for the love everyone. Still hoping for the best. In the meantime I’ll be in New Orleans shooting Interview With A Vampire for AMC — and very grateful to be! Thanks…”

I’m assuming there have been some Futurama fans who’ve been hounding DiMaggio to suck up Hulu’s offer to get their greedy mitts on new episodes, but I’m glad the voice actor is sticking to his guns. I feel incredibly confident that whatever 20th Animation and Hulu are paying the stars who have already signed contracts, like Fry’s Billy West and Leela’s Katey Sagal, it’s less than they deserve. I am also fully confident that whatever DiMaggio’s asking for, 20th Animation and Hulu’s parent company Disney can pay for it without breaking the bank — and could even pay West, Sagal, and the others the money they deserve without noticeably dropping the level of gold and jewels in the Scrooge-like vault of gold coins I assume Disney keeps its massive profits in.

If 20th Animation and Hulu don’t decide to pay DiMaggio now, they’re still going to pay for it later, because some fans will find a new Bender too jarring to enjoy the show, and other fans won’t bother checking out a DiMaggio-less Futurama at all. As I said before, recasting Bender would be like recasting Homer on The Simpsons — both voice actors’ performances are so idiosyncratic and integral to their shows that they would feel wrong without them.

Meanwhile, John DiMaggio is in AMC’s Interview With the Vampire TV series? Good for him!