There have been a remarkable twenty seasons of South Park so far, and it definitely doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. One of our favourite characters down through the years has always been Chef (chocolate salty balls anyone?), but unfortunately, soul singer Isaac Hayes who voiced the character, left the show back in 2005, and later passed away in 2008.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker spoke candidly recently to The Hollywood Reporter about Hayes departure from the show, and how it happened following the release of the 'Trapped in the Closet’ episode which mocked Scientology.
Stone said; "When we did the Scientology episode, [Isaac Hayes, who was a Scientologist] came over, and I sat with him. It was like a day or two after, and it was pretty obvious from the conversation that somebody had sent him to ask us to pull the episode.
"It had already gone on the air, and we didn't tell him because we didn't want him to be held accountable. Plausible deniability."
Four months after the episode aired, Hayes controversially quit the show with a statement that was said to be in protest of the episode. However, Hayes son, Hayes III, who was also present during the THR interview said; "his father did not quit South Park; someone quit South Park for him."
He continued: “What happened was that in January 2006 my dad had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. He really didn't have that much comprehension, and he had to relearn to play the piano and a lot of different things.
“He was in no position to resign under his own knowledge. At the time, everybody around my father was involved in Scientology — his assistants, the core group of people. So someone quit South Park on Isaac Hayes' behalf. We don't know who."
Stone added; "We sort of figured out the whole picture a bit later, but that's totally what happened."
Hayes III continued; “My father was not that big of a hypocrite to be part of a show that would constantly poke fun at African-American people, Jewish people, gay people — and only quit when it comes to Scientology. He wouldn't be that hypocritical."
"It really sucked, the whole thing". Stone said. "This statement put out that he was quitting, it kind of called us bigots."
Parker added; "But we knew in our hearts there was something way more rotten going on."
Catch the full interview in The Hollywood Reporter here.