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SYFY WIRE Futurama

'Futurama' star John DiMaggio reveals Hulu's plan had he not returned - and he didn't get a raise

The voice of Bender is back, but he didn't actually win his battle for higher pay.

By Matthew Jackson
John Dimaggio Bender Futurama

Back in March, Futurama fans rejoiced when news broke that John DiMaggio would return to voice the beloved robot Bender for Hulu's upcoming revival of the sci-fi comedy classic. The news came after a weeks-long standoff with Hulu over what DiMaggio called unfair pay for the show's voice cast, but at a fan even over the weekend, DiMaggio revealed that the standoff didn't actually end with higher pay. 

Slashfilm reports that DiMaggio revealed the news during a panel at Phoenix Fan Fusion over the weekend, telling fans in attendance that while he didn't get a raise to return for the upcoming Hulu series, he did get some valuable acknowledgement from his peers. 

"People are like, 'I'm so glad you got more money!' I didn't get more money," DiMaggio said. "But what I did get was a lot of respect, and a lot of head nods from people who are like, 'Yo bro, I see you and thank you.'"

Hulu first announced the revival of Futurama, featuring the show's original writers and voice cast including Billy West, Katey Sagal, and Phil LaMarr, back in February, but within days it was apparent that DiMaggio was the lone holdout among the show's stars. Calling the issue a matter of "self-respect," DiMaggio spoke out about the negotiations later that same month, and made it clear that he was lobbying for raises not just for himself, but for all of his co-stars. 

By early March, DiMaggio was back on board the series, which plans to return for a fresh round of episodes next year. At the Phoenix Fan Fusion event, DiMaggio noted that the plan in his absence had been for Hulu and 20th Century Television to recruit a kind of rotating cast of guest stars to play Bender instead, with a new voice taking over the role each episode rather than a single actor taking on the character. In terms of the pay issue, DiMaggio compared trying to squeeze out extra money from Disney (Hulu's parent company) to getting "blood from a stone," and noted that eventually, he felt it was time to let go. 

"But listen, this was the best thing about that fight: I had Disney, Hulu, I was holding on to their collective testicles so hard that they couldn't, y'know, there was nowhere for them to go," DiMaggio said. "But there was also nowhere for me to go, and who wants to hold on to those for that long?"

Futurama returns for new episodes on Hulu this summer, with DiMaggio along for the ride. Here's hoping the respect he got for his willingness to speak out about the money issue will pay dividends somewhere down the line. 

Looking for more sci-fi comedy in the meantime, SYFY's Resident Alien is streaming now on Peacock, and returns with new episodes this fall.