Hank Azaria has reportedly announced that he will no longer provide the voice of one of Springfield‘s most beloved characters. The Emmy Award-winning actor has been known since February 1990, as the voice of
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons.
Slash Film quoted the actor as follows;
“What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to [Al Jean and Matt Groening] and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore. We all made the decision together. We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”
The character of Apu has been a sticking point of controversy for the show since the 2017 release of the documentary The Problem With Apu, in which comedian Hari Kondabolu first addressed the issues surrounding Apu — mainly, white actors portraying South Asians as stereotypes.
After its release, in an interview with USA Today, the show’s creator Matt Groening addressed the issue;
“I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”
Azaria had also previously spoken about his relationship with the character during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert;
“I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” he said on the show. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room . . . including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do for me.”
Azaria has voiced Apu since the first-season of the Simpsons in 1990, with Apu first appearing in the episode entitled The Telltale Head.