Three weeks after an episode of “The Simpsons” tried — and failed — to quell criticism of the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Hank Azaria, who voices Apu on the animated series, says he is willing to step down from the role to make things right.
Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to promote his IFC series “Brockmire,” Azaria said he’s “given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. 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, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it [is].”
Azaria added that “listening to voices means inclusion in the writer’s room. I really want to see Indians, 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.”
“I’m perfectly happy and willing to step aside,” Azaria continued. “or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does, it not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
Watch the clip below:
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) April 25, 2018
Criticism of the character intensified in 2017 with the release of “The Problem With Apu” a documentary by filmmaker Hari Kondabolu that studied the effects of negative stereotypes perpetuated by the character.
On Twitter, Kondabolu thanked Azaria for his remarks.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 25, 2018
This isn’t Azaria’ first time addressing the criticism. Earlier this year at TCA’s winter conference, Azaria talked about having seen the documentary and said at the time “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu … it’s distressing.”