Hank Azaria discusses quitting playing Apu in The Simpsons


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Hank Azaria

Hank Azaria
photo: Andrew Toth (Getty Images)

The simpsons has been a bit slow to embrace the trend for animated shows to move away from the voices of white actors voicing non-white characters, to the point that the show actively pushed back on change initially, but – to its credit – l actor Hank Azaria was faster than some of his Simpsons colleagues to acknowledge the fact that he was doing something wrong and offensive by voicing Apu (as pointed out in Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The problem with Apu). Azaria decided that he would stop speaking Apu long before it became publicly official policy to Simpsons HQ, and he’s been open since then that he wants to be held accountable for the harm he caused by playing the character.

Recently, during an appearance on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman Chair expert Podcast (Going through Hollywood journalist) Azaria said he continued to explore the negative impact Apu had on perceptions of Indians in the United States, and that he had met Indo-American children who had never seen an episode of The simpsons but still know about Apu. “It’s practically an insult at this point,” he said, adding that one 17-year-old in particular had tearfully asked him to remind writers that “what they do is important and has ramifications for the future. people’s lives ”.

Azaria seems to recognize the very central role he played in spreading the racist stereotypes that Apu was a part of, and it looks like doing everything possible to at least apologize and listen to people’s concerns about this are active parts. of his life now. “Part of me feels like I have to go see all the Indians in this country and apologize personally,” he said on the podcast. “And sometimes I do.” Meanwhile, on The simpsons, Apu was never recast (unlike some of the black characters who were once voiced by white men, such as with Kevin Michael Richardson replacing Harry Shearer as Dr. Hibbert).

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