'The Simpsons' Considered Nicolas Cage for the Voice of Frank Grimes
Once upon a time, The Simpsons was a great show. And one of its very best episodes was season 8’s “Homer’s Enemy,” in which hard-working guy Frank Grimes lands a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and grows horrified at the constant buffoonery of Homer Simpson, the plant’s safety inspector who is perpetually drunk, stupid, or taking a nap in a radiation suit still hung on a hook. Simpsons player Hank Azaria famously voiced Grimes, or “Grimey,” as he liked to be called, but at one point a very different – and very famous – actor was considered for the role: Nicolas Cage.
Back in the good old days, when The Simpsons was still a great show, the season 8 episode “Homer’s Enemy” arrived, and quickly became a fan-favorite. True, some people take issue with the episode – it’s very meta, and it ends on a disturbingly dark note, something the show doesn’t normally do. But it’s also funny as well. As episode executive producer Josh Weinstein put it: “We wanted to do an episode where the thinking was ‘What if a real-life, normal person had to enter Homer’s universe and deal with him?’”
The answer, as it turns out, looks pretty much like our current political landscape. Just imagine all of us as Frank Grimes and Donald Trump as Homer Simpson, but eviler. The gist: Frank Grimes has spent his entire life struggling and working hard, hoping to get ahead. Then he meets Homer Simpson, a man who is something of an idiot but who has none the less managed to not just get by in life, but also take part in incredible achievements – he even went to space once!
Frank is understandably disturbed by this, as he is by the reaction of Homer’s coworkers, who seem to take Homer’s cluelessness in stride – even though, as safety inspector of a nuclear power plant, Homer has everyone’s lives in his hands. It all culminates in Frank having a complete breakdown and accidentally killing himself with some live power lines. Yes, I know that doesn’t exactly sound funny, but trust me – this episode is great.
Hank Azaria, a Simpsons player who has voiced many characters on the show for decades, provided the voice of Frank Grimes, and he was pretty much perfect in the role. But all these years later, Josh Weinstein just dropped an interesting bit of trivia on Twitter, saying: “Nicolas Cage is one of the only other actors we considered asking to play Frank Grimes, before we realized Hank Azaria would be the ultimate Grimey. And Hank’s performance was one of the best in the show’s history.”
I have to admit I’m torn by this news. I agree that Azaria’s work as Frank Grimes is wonderful, and I can’t really picture anyone else in the role. And yet…the thought of having Nicolas Cage in the part sure is tantalizing. I think Cage could’ve perfectly nailed Grimes’ frustration and his eventual breakdown, where he runs through the power plant effectively losing his mind. But I’m still happy with what we ended up with, so I can’t complain much. Oddly enough, Cage has never guest-starred on The Simpsons in all the years it’s been on the air. Maybe someday, since the show will apparently never end.
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