One of the immediate differences between old and new episodes of The Simpsons is how the voices of so many characters have been altered so drastically, arguably none more so than the show’s most popular character.

If you’re going to carry on making a show for another 33-plus years you’ve got to make sure the cast is as comfortable as possible behind the scenes. Heading this advice back in the early 90s, the actor behind one of The Simpsons’ most iconic characters decided to make a drastic change to his approach in order to protect his most precious asset – his voice.

If you’ve recently done a deep dive into the old episodes of The Simpsons on Disney+ recently, you may have noticed a pretty major difference in how some of the main cast used to sound.

Most notably, Homer – the internet’s most-loved, meme-worthy character, was portrayed with a much deeper voice than the one he has now in the first season, and only really came to fully develop his iconic sounding tone around season 5. Though altering how a major character sounded was no doubt a big decision to make at the time – the reasoning behind it is simple, Homer was hurting Dan Castellaneta’s voice.

One can only imagine how important it is for a professional voice actor to maintain healthy vocal cords at all times and to avoid putting them under any unnecessary strain, at the risk of losing out precious work.

So the story goes that Castellaneta, who began voicing Homer back when he was first introduced as a sketch character, was under too much strain doing the season 1 voice – and opted to change the vibe for season 2, making Homer a higher pitched, faster speaker – a wise decision that helped solidify the now iconic brand of the hapless yellow father of three.

How does Dan Castellaneta do the Homer voice?

While the original Homer voice was based loosely on the gruff tones of the late actor Walter Matthau, and the contemporary Homer sounds erratic, squeaky, and often unjustifiably irate, neither of these sounds comes naturally to Castellaneta.

Speaking to talk show host Conan in 2000 in a now iconic clip, Castellaneta explained that to do the Homer voice he has to make use of his lower throat in order to reach the unique pitches omitted by Springfield’s most famous resident.

Castellaneta admitted that his voice was not strong enough to power the original deep sound of season 1 Homer and that by pitching it up, he was able to switch through the character’s emotions at a faster rate – a trait he found better suited to the emotional instability of Homer.

Does Castellaneta still voice Homer?

Yes, Castellaneta does still voice Homer.

With the show gearing up for its 35th season, he would be forgiven for wanting a change of scenery. But the legendary voice actor has been a part of The Simpsons ever since it was but a sketch show segment in the 1980s, and he remains as active as ever in 2023.

Writers Guild of America West Awards - Inside
Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage for Writers Guild of America

Not only does he provide the voice of Homer, but Castellaneta also brings Barney, Krusty, Groundskeeper Willie, and Grampa Abe to life – among others!

But had he not made those crucial changes to Homer’s voice that helped the whole world fall in love with the erratic animation, who knows where Castellaneta, or The Simpsons, would be today?

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