Hank Azaria would "step aside" from voicing "Simpsons" character Apu over stereotype controversy

Posted on: April 25th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.(NEW YORK) — Hank Azaria, the voice behind Apu on The Simpsons, was Tuesday night’s guest on CBS’ The Late Show, and addressed the ongoing controversy around the character, telling host Stephen Colbert that he’s “perfectly willing and happy to step aside” or take the character in a new direction, and hopes Simpsons showrunners are willing to do the same.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, really a lot of thought [and] my eyes have been opened,” Azaria tells Colbert. “And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been.”

That, suggests the 54-year-old actor and voiceover artist, means having more inclusion in the writers room, as well.

“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 may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced,” says Azaria, insisting he’s “perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new.”

“I really hope that’s what The Simpsons does…it not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me,” adds Azaria, drawing cheers and applause from Colbert’s studio audience.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu, which debuted on TruTV last November, criticized the cartoon’s representation of the Kwik-E-Mart owner for its negative, stereotypical depiction of South Asians.

The Simpsons showrunners waited almost five months before addressing the controversy during an episode of the show in which Lisa Simpson notes, “something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect.”

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