Hank Azaria says he is officially stepping down as the voice of Apu on ‘The Simpsons’.
“I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s someway to transition it or something,” Azaria has said in an interview with SlashFilm.
“What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore.”
Calls for Azaria, who has voiced the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner for decades, to stop playing Apu intensified in 2017 after comedian Hari Kondabolu released the documentary ‘The Problem With Apu’.
The documentary explored how people of South Asian descent felt about growing up with Apu as one of their only representatives on American television.
‘The Simpsons’ addressed the controversy in a 2018 episode, in which Lisa says: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
She then looks over at a framed picture of Apu, which has the line “Don’t have a cow!” written on it.
Series creator Matt Groening also spoke about the issue in an interview in which he said “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”.
In the wake of the film’s release, Azaria said he would be willing to stop playing the character.
“I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” he said at the time. “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 to me.”
“The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad,” he continued.
“It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people.”