Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: Benedict Cumberbatch guest stars as a moody 80s-era UK crooner who becomes Lisa’s imaginary friend on this Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons.” Variety has a first look at this Fauxissey as he gives his take on the citizens of Springfield; scroll down to watch.
In the episode “Panic on the Streets of Springfield,” Cumberbatch plays “Quilloughby,” described as Lisa’s “new imaginary friend — a depressed British singer from the 1980s.” Also in the episode, “Homer becomes a truck guy in the all.” Helping write music for the episode: “Flight of the Conchords'” Bret McKenzie.
Of course, it doesn’t take much to realize “Quilloughby” looks, sounds and acts like noted moody vegan (and lately, controversial right-winger) Morrissey.
“I grew up as a moody kid obsessed with catchy-yet-depressing indy music from England, so this show was sort of a natural for me,” said Tim Long, who wrote the episode. “And like Marge, my parents wondered what the hell was wrong with me — they still don’t know.”
Long clarifies that the character is not Morrissey, but an original character created for “The Simpsons.”
“And I’m sticking by that!” he quipped. “Having said that, the character is definitely Morrissey-esque, with maybe a small dash of Robert Smith from the Cure, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, and a bunch of other people.”
Long had a chance to see Morrissey and The Smiths in the summer of the 1986, on the band’s “Queen Is Dead” tour, “and it’s safe to say they changed my life,” he said. “I’ve seen Moz many times since then, most recently at the Hollywood Bowl in 2018. Executive producer Matt Selman was also at that show, and we got to talking about how much music meant to us as weird, alienated teenagers — and also how being a big fan of someone is like having a lifelong relationship with them, with all the ups and down that implies. This show grew out of that discussion.”
Long raves about Cumberbatch in the role, along with his scenes with Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) “are just magical. And the songs, with lyrics by me and music by Bret McKenzie, are so good,” he added. “Bret knew exactly what we were going for and nailed it. He’s maybe the nicest genius I know.”
In the screengrab above, eagle-eyed viewers will learn that Quilloughby was originally the lead singer of “The Snuffs,” whose hits included “How Late Is Then,” “What Difference Do I Make?” and “Hamburger Is Homicide.”
Here’s a first look at Sunday’s show, as Quilloughby tours Springfield, and has some choice thoughts on the town’s denizens:
And here, from Long’s Twitter feed, is a mock-up poster for Sunday’s show.
— Tim Long (@mrtimlong) April 15, 2021
“The Simpsons” episode “Panic on the Streets of Springfield” airs April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. An extended cut of the episode will post on Hulu after the Fox broadcast.