‘Rick and Morty’ Reveals New Voice Actors After Justin Roiland Controversy

A new era of Rick and Morty began on Sunday night, with the show’s first episode since the ouster of cocreator Justin Roiland. Season seven of the hit Adult Swim series unveiled the new voices of Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith, two characters previously voiced by Roiland. Those duties will now be split by newcomers Ian Cardoni and Harry Belden, who portray Rick and Morty, respectively. The premiere’s opening also omit the typical credit “created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon,” opting to show the show’s logo instead. 

Roiland departed from the show earlier this year amid allegations of workplace toxicity and since-dismissed charges of domestic violence. Roiland, who was also replaced by Dan Stevens as the lead character voice on Hulu’s animated series Solar Opposites, has denied more recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the show’s new leads, Harmon and showrunner showrunner Scott Marder detailed their “pretty rigorous process” for replacing Roiland, which spanned six months and thousands of performers. “It almost went so wide that we debated doing a global hotline,” Marder said, “though we knew it would wind up being a prank line.”

The duo said they decided fairly early into the search that the characters of Rick and his grandfather Morty should be played by two different actors. “For sheer quality of life, it’d be easier for the amount of work required for both characters,” Marder said. “We watched it over the years wear down on Roiland’s voice. It felt unfair to do that to someone.” Added Harmon, “In retrospect, it’s also smart because we want the fan experience to continue with as little disruption as possible. In a weird way, catering to the idea that there’s been a replacement of a single human being—an auteur—is going to play into the disruption factor. We really want people to keep believing these characters are real.”

Pressure to recast the roles was exacerbated by a stunning 70-episode renewal back in 2018 by Adult Swim. “The high-class problem that Harmon and I had was that we were writing season nine—seasons beyond where we’re at right now,” Marder explained. “So it didn’t feel like the tone for the show could magically change. We wrote consistently the same show and we needed the voices to be the same.”

By casting two actors who are relatively early in their careers, Marder said Cardoni and Belden have “brought this show 30 more years,” adding, “We just got these eager, young guys who are so excited to attack every episode.” And instead of making meta references to past controversy, Harmon said the show is squarely focused on its future. “Our metric of absolute success in the transition would be if the hypothetical casual viewer who was out of the loop on any behind-the-scenes drama about the show were to keep right on watching it and say, ‘This season’s better than the other on’ or ‘This may be my favorite episode,’” Harmon said. “If that person is able to continue their journey from the womb to the tomb with Rick and Morty and a furniture-like stability, that is the best we can do in this particular job.”

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