Harry Julius Shearer (born December 23, 1943 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actor and Voice Actor famous for starring as Derek Smalls in This is Spın̈al Tap, as well as his voicework on The Simpsons, where he played many characters, including:
- Religious neighbor Ned Flanders
- Cynical preacher Reverend Timothy Lovejoy
- School principal and Shell-Shocked Veteran who still lives with — and is being controlled by — his mother, Seymour Skinner
- Evil nuclear plant owner Charles Montgomery Burns and his increasingly Transparent Closet, sycophantic assistant Waylon Smithers
- Bill Cosby Expy and the town's only competent doctor Dr. Julius Hibbertnote
- Sarcastic, often unprofessional news anchor Kent Brockman
- Homer's friend and plant coworker Lenford "Lenny" Leonard
- Grandpa Simpson's elderly vitriolic best friend Jasper Beardley
- Stoner bus driver Otto Mann
- Shady and mentally unstable amputee Herman, owner of Herman's Military Antiques
- Springfield Elementary's incompetent, homosexual music teacher, Mr. Largo
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Expy Rainier Wolfcastlenote .
He has also hosted the satirical NPR series Le Show since 1983.
Shearer entered show business as a child actor, appearing in the film The Robe and on such TV programs as The Jack Benny Program and Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as the pilot of Leave It to Beaver. After attending college at UCLA and grad school at Harvard, he briefly worked as a staffer in the California state legislature and a high school English teacher before appearing with the satirical radio comedy troupe The Credibility Gap in the early '70s. Later in the decade worked as a writer for the Fernwood Tonight retool America 2-Night and helped pen the screenplay for Albert Brooks' film Real Life.
Shearer was a writer and cast member for Saturday Night Live during its fifth (1979–80) season, then returned during season ten (1984–85), Dick Ebersol's final season as show runner before Lorne Michaels's return.
In May 2015, it was announced that he would be leaving The Simpsons as of its twenty-seventh season. In July of that year, however, the show's producers announced that they'd struck a deal with Shearer and he would remain in the cast.
Tropes applying to Harry Shearer:
- The Comically Serious: Shearer's authoritative voice makes him the go-to for Simpsons characters who are humorously straitlaced and uptight, such as Principal Skinner and Smithers.
- Creator Backlash:
I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not.
- Has vocally condemned the infamous The Simpsons episode "The Principal and the Pauper" for "tossing (Principal Skinner's character) in the trash can for no good reason."
- He was also quite critical of the show's decision to recast all non-white characters with people of color, noting that a major point of acting is being able to play characters outside the actor's natural range.
- Former Child Star: As mentioned above, Shearer started out as a child actor in the '50s.
- He Also Did:
- Man of a Thousand Voices: The number of Simpsons characters listed above are a mere handful of those he, Dan Castellaneta and Hank Azaria play.
- Money, Dear Boy: His reason for remaining on The Simpsons, despite his contention that the show's quality has been going downhill since season four.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: In a particular "Treehouse of Horror"'s credits, all of the members of the core voice actors have Halloween pun names...except Shearer.
- What Could Have Been:
- During his first time on Saturday Night Live, Harry Shearer begged NBC to make him the new executive producer after Lorne Michaels announced that he would be leaving and that Al Franken was rejected for his "Limo For the Lame-O" report on Weekend Update. NBC said no, and that's how Jean Doumanian was picked to be season six's showrunner.
- He was in the original pilot for Leave It to Beaver and potentially could have been that show's High-School Hustler in lieu of Ken Osmond's Eddie Haskell. It's not quite a The Other Marty or The Other Darrin situation because he didn't play Eddie Haskell but rather a very similar character named Frankie Bennett.
- After Phil Hartman's death in 1998, the Simpsons producers thought about having Shearer take over the role of Lionel Hutz before deciding to retire Hutz from the show along with Hartman's other recurring role, Troy McClure, out of respect.