Long-time Simpsons star Hank Azaria has said that he will no longer do the voice of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, after years of controversy surrounding the character.
The actor confirmed the news in an interview with Slashfilm, saying:
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something. We all made the decision together … We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”
Hank Azaria has voiced Apu Nahasapeemapetilon for three decades, however, the character has been criticised as a racist caricature of Indian Americans.
A 2017 documentary film, The Problem With Apu, explored this issue, as well as the more general perception of South Asians in American popular culture.
In April of 2018, Azaria told Stephen Colbert that he was “willing and happy” to step aside from the role of Apu, although Simpsons producers said there was no plan to phase him out.
The show itself dealt with the backlash in a 2018 episode, ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished‘, in which Marge is shocked by racist stereotypes in her favourite childhood book.
She goes about creating a revised version of the book, but Lisa is unimpressed. When Marge asks what she should do, Lisa responds:
“It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
Lisa then pointed to a picture of Apu with “don’t have a cow, man” written on it, and the two characters agreed to revisit the issue at a later time.
20th Century Fox TV has not responded to the latest comments made by Hank Azaria.Image: Getty Images / Steve Granitz