Hank Azaria discussed his portrayal of Apu in The Simpsons and apologised for his role.

The Simpsons began as a critically acclaimed animated sitcom in 1989. Since its inception, the show has seen animation and character changes. However, one of the most controversial topics has been the switching of actors.

Hank Azaria has voiced over a hundred characters in The Simpsons. Although he is best known for the likes of Apu, Jonathan Frink and Moe Szyslak. The show has faced backlash for using white actors for multi-cultural roles.

The role of Apu has particularly come under fire and Azaria has decided to step away from the role.

What has been said?

Speaking on Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria explained his feelings on the situation:

“I realised I have had a date with destiny with this thing for 31 years.”

“I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it. I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens.”

“Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for.”

The actor went on to detail his thoughts in greater detail:

“I really do apologise. I know you weren’t asking for that but it’s important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and apologise.

Discourse

The conversation about the portrayal of Apu largely stemmed from the documentary The Problem with Apu. In this film, Indian people noted the racism they had experienced because of the depiction.

Equally, others have insisted that the show remains as it is. Some have as gone as far as to note that the Italians and Scottish characters are not played by people of the nation and they do not mind.

Azaria has noted this discourse:

“I have people say to me, ‘Oh does this mean you can’t play Wiggum because you’re not a real cop?’ That’s just ridiculous,”

“If it’s a character of colour, there’s not the same level of opportunity there. The first argument is, if it’s an Indian character, Latin character or Black character, please let’s have that person voice the character.”

“It’s more authentic, they might also bring their experience of their culture to it – and let’s not take away jobs from people who don’t have enough.”

Going forward

The cast of The Simpsons looks set to continue changing. However, given that the show is over thirty years old, this won’t be a surprise to many. The biggest concern will undoubtedly be whether the show can recapture what made the earlier seasons so memorable.

It seems The Simpsons is changing again.

Images via Alamy