Hank Azaria is speaking out about the immense backlash he faced due to his former role voicing Apu on “The Simpsons”.
Controversy has surrounded the long-running character since the release of comedian Hari Kondabolu’s 2018 documentary “The Problem With Apu”, which explored the negative impact from the stereotypes it perpetuates, including the over-the-top Indian accent used by Azaria.
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The actor joined in on the most recent episode of Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert“ podcast to apologize for voicing the character, while also calling for more authentic representation in animation.
Azaria, who stepped away from the role in February of last year, said, “I’ve had a date with destiny with this thing for about 31 years. Part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize, and sometimes I do when it comes up.”
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Calling for better representation, he continued, “If it’s an Indian character or a Latinx character or a Black character, please let’s have that person voice the character,” he said. “It’s more authentic, they’ll bring their experience to it, and let’s not take jobs away from people who don’t have enough.”
Azaria realized that he needed to step back from playing the character after the release of “The Problem With Apu”.
“I got cancelled, however you want to put it,” he recalled, “and really intensely.”
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Looking back on how it all went wrong with Apu, Azaria added, “We tried to do a funny, thoughtful character. [But] just because there were good intentions doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences that I am accountable for.”