Futurama voice actor John DiMaggio, whose absence from the list of cast members returning for Hulu’s revival took fans by surprise earlier this month, has elaborated on his current decision not to come back as Bender.
On Feb. 9, Hulu ordered a 20-episode revival of David X. Cohen and Matt Groening’s beloved animated series, which will welcome back a number of original voice actors including Billy West as Fry and Katey Sagal as Leela. At the time, a source told our sister site Variety that producers were “hopeful” DiMaggio would come back to voice snarky robot Bender, but acknowledged the role may need to be recast.
Deadline later reported that stalled contract negotiations were behind DiMaggio’s absence: Though he reportedly received an offer in line with the one given to West and Sagal for their returns, DiMaggio felt it “was not competitive” based on Futurama‘s previous success and name recognition. The Hulu revival was then announced without DiMaggio on board.
“Just to be clear, I don’t think that only I deserve to be paid more. I think the entire cast does,” DiMaggio clarified in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday. “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.”
The actor went on to call Bender “part of my soul,” adding that “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 [sic] time & talent.” He concluded, though, that he is “still hoping for the best” regarding his potential return to the show.
Futurama originally aired for four seasons on Fox from 1999 to 2003; five years after its initial cancellation, Comedy Central revived the series for an additional three seasons (2008–13). Production on Hulu’s revival begins later this month, with new episodes anticipated in 2023.