Hank Azaria has apologised to "every single Indian person" for voicing Apu in The Simpsons.
The 56-year-old actor has expressed his regret about portraying the Indian shopkeeper on the long-running sitcom, after standing down from the role last year amid accusations of racial stereotyping.
Speaking to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on the Armchair Expert podcast on Mon (Apr 12), he said: "I really do apologise. I know you weren’t asking for that but it’s important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that.
"Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise."
Azaria joined the iconic comedy series in 1989 and besides Apu, he was the voice of Carl Carlson, Superintendent Chalmers, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy. He retired from voicing Apu last year.
He concedes that the character contributed towards "structural racism" in the US. However, he also insisted that, for a long time, "I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it.
"I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens.
"Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for."
In the sitcom, Apu runs the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store and various storylines involving the character — like the time he acquired a forged birth certificate from local mobsters — have provoked criticism over the years.
Hari Kondabolu — the comedian who made the 2017 documentary, The Problem with Apu — has welcomed Azaria's apology on Twitter.
However, he also sees it as "comeuppance" for the sitcom.
He wrote on the micro-blogging platform: "The “Apu Controversy” is not real. Racism isn’t “controversial,” it’s a constant. Unless you think People of Color finally standing up for themselves is “controversial.”
"However, I suppose a word like “controversy” is more clickable than “comeuppance.” (sic)"
The “Apu Controversy” is not real. Racism isn’t “controversial,” it’s a constant. Unless you think People of Color finally standing up for themselves is “controversial.”— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 12, 2021
However, I suppose a word like “controversy” is more clickable than “comeuppance.”
— BANG SHOWBIZ
Photos: TPG News/Click PHotos