Casting Amy's Futurama Voice Actor Caused Some Major Changes To The Character

An actor's performance can change how a character is written — even when that performance is coming from inside a recording booth. Lauren Tom, the voice of Amy Wong on "Futurama," is one such performance. No space travel show is complete without an engineer character, and it seems that early in development, Amy was supposed to be that character on "Futurama."

After casting the more feminine Lauren Tom, the production team of "Futurama" revamped Amy to better fit her comic persona. Speaking to People Magazine in 2018, Lauren Tom recounted that "the concept for Amy, originally, was that she was supposed to be kind of a very tough, sort of butch car mechanic. And she was dressed that way, in a car mechanic jumpsuit, and just really tough."

A tougher Amy

Any "Futurama" fan will tell you that Amy is not "butch" at all. No, she's sweet, ditzy, and a total klutz. She also peppers her speech with futuristic slang, valley girl style. As Tom explained, the original characterization of Amy as tough and butch simply wasn't a good fit:

"I'm not, that's not really my persona that I put out, you know, so when I met Matt [Groening] he's like, 'Huh, well, we'll have to figure this out.' Then they made Amy a little bit softer, kind of free with her love, let's put it that way. And then they made Leela the tougher one when Katey Sagal came on, that also fit perfectly with her persona."

While Amy's character did end up more in line with Tom's persona, elements of the original concept bleed through. Amy is studying engineering at Mars University, and her usual outfit is a pink track suit, similar to the jumpsuit Tom mentioned. In the early episode "Hell is Other Robots," she's even shown using a jackhammer and welding goggles. But Amy only occasionally gets to show off her engineering aptitude, such as in "That Darn Katz!" where she finally earns her Ph.D. Since she rarely does any actual engineering, her presence at Planet Express is explained by her being Professor Farnsworth's intern, whom he keeps around because she happens to have the same blood type as him.

Most of Amy's funny moments emphasize either her ditziness/clumsiness, her relationship with Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche), or her friendly rivalry with Leela. Amy often fires cutesy-casual backhanded compliments at Leela's butch posturing, while Leela is jealous of Amy's greater success in dating. If Amy had been the tough gal and Leela the more feminine character, it's plausible this dynamic would've wound up reversed.