The Simpsons debuted in December 1989 and introduced America to the unforgettable characters of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta), his wife Marge (Julie Kavner), and their three kids: Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and baby Maggie.
On the air for over three decades, the animated show has had its share of A-list guest stars including Meryl Streep, Stephen Colbert, and Lady Gaga. From Oscar winners to athletes, The Simpsons continues to be a draw for famous personalities to lend their voice to the top-rated Fox Network sitcom. Yet some celebrities have turned down the offer – more than once.
The Boss said no … repeatedly
In his 2018 book Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons, writer and producer Mike Reiss revealed that one music icon the show has often tried to recruit keeps rejecting the offer.
“We’ve asked Bruce Springsteen to do the show repeatedly, but he always turns us down,” Reiss wrote. “We sent him a Simpsons jacket as a bribe, which didn’t work.”
When a member of the E Street Band did a guest spot on The Simpsons, producers thought that would be enough to convince Springsteen to follow suit.
“We even had his sax player, Clarence Clemons, on the show, hoping he’d tell Bruce how much fun it was,” Reiss remarked. “That didn’t work, either. … It was odd, because rock stars rarely turn us down.”
Reiss added, “Bruce, we’d like our jacket back.”
No Presidents have been on ‘The Simpsons’
While some political figures, such as Rudy Giuliani and Tony Blair, have lent their voice to The Simpsons, the production team was never able to woo a Commander in Chief.
“We’ve never had a U.S. president,” Reiss explained. “Gerald Ford was our first ask… but he turned us down. Every president from Ford to Obama rejected us; Michelle Obama turned us down, too.”
Apparently, the 42nd president almost took on a guest role. After reading his lines, he returned what would now be considered an ironic rejection.
“The closest we ever came was Bill Clinton,” Reiss recalled. “After we wrote him a part and sent him the script, he notified us, ‘While I’d love to do The Simpsons, I’d never do anything to disgrace the office of the president.’ Sometimes they write the jokes for you.”
‘Mission: Impossible’ star turned down ‘The Simpsons’ assignment
One Hollywood icon was known to enjoy The Simpsons, leading producers to believe he’d be an easy get for the animated series.
“Tom Cruise was an early fan of the show,” Reiss commented. “Tapes of new episodes were sent to him when he was filming on location. And so we wrote a role just for him: he was supposed to play ‘Tom,’ the Top Gun pilot in ‘Brother from the Same Planet’.”
The season 4 episode featured Bart going to the Bigger Brothers organization after Homer forgot to pick him up from soccer practice. Bart was matched with Tom, a military test pilot. Though the plot had a humorous premise that was tailored for the Mission: Impossible star, Cruise said no.
“Cruise turned down the part, so we gave the role to Phil Hartman in what became a classic episode,” Reiss wrote. “Tom turned us down, but he did The Mummy. Go figure.”
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