Actor Hank Azaria, who voices Apu in The Simpsons, said he is willing to stop voicing the character following the controversy surrounding the shows racial stereotyping. The actor spoke about the stir during his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
When Stephen questioned Hank if he understands why Indian American or South Asian American actors feel offended of the portrayal of the character, Hank answered, “Of course, I understand. It has come to my attention more and more, especially in last a few years that people have been upset with the voice and characterisation.” He added that the controversy has “sparked a lot of conversation around what should be done with the character going forward.”
Hank said that it upsets him to think of the “idea that anybody was, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu.” He said, “It was not my intention, I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this but the idea it brought pain or suffering in any way is upsetting genuinely.”
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He later addressed the need of having South Asian American or Indian American writers on board to bring about a change in how the character goes forward in the series. “I think the most important thing is, we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country and they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been. And as you know, in television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writer’s room. I really want to see Indian South Asian writers in the room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character can take, including how it is voiced or not voiced.”
Hank added he would be perfectly fine to step aside from voicing the character, “You know, I am perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what the Simpsons does. And it not only makes sense but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”