Hank Azaria: Voicing Apu Doesn't "Feel Right"

It's unclear if Apu Nahasapeemapetilon will be removed from 'The Simpsons' completely.

Hank Azaria says continuing to voice Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons "just doesn't feel right".

The 55-year-old actor originally provided the voice for the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, but in 2017 the show came under fire for making the Indian-American character a racist caricature, who was voiced by a white actor.

Earlier this year, Hank confirmed he would be stepping down as Apu's voice actor, and he has now said he no longer wants to "participate" in furthering the racist role.

He said: "Once I realised that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore. It just didn't feel right."

And Azaria, who is Jewish, also admitted he can understand the negative reaction toward the character, as he would be equally offended by a character that played up Jewish stereotypes.

He added to The New York Times: "I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that."

Whilst the actor will no longer voice the shopkeeper, it's currently unknown if Apu will be removed from the show completely.

In a statement to The New York Times, The Simpsons executive team said: "We respect Hank's journey in regard to Apu. We have granted his wish to no longer voice the character. Apu is beloved worldwide. We love him too. Stay tuned."

Meanwhile, Azaria — who voices characters including Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, and Carl Carlson — recently confirmed he wouldn't be voicing Apu, but admitted he was unsure of the character's future.

He said: "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.

"What they're going to do with the character is their call. It's up to them, and they haven't sorted it out yet. All we've agreed on is I won't do the voice anymore."

The conversation around Apu began in Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, which explored whether or not Apu's character had contributed to negative stereotypes of Indian-Americans. 

— BANG

Photos: TPG News/Click Photos


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