The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

The Simpsons: Hank Azaria had no idea people viewed Apu as racist

Voice actor reveals he 'joyfully based' character on role already 'considered quite upsetting'

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 25 February 2020 12:12
Comments
Apu in The Simpson episode Much Apu About Something

Hank Azaria has spoken out about his decision to quit as the voice of Apu in The Simpson after accusations that the character is racist.

Azaria – a white man – voiced the Indian shopkeeper for 30 years, but his depiction came under fire in a 2017 documentary titled The Problem With Apu.

The documentary saw comedian Hari Kondabolu investigate why the character was problematic and a racial stereotype.

Azaria has now told The New York Times: “Once I realised that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore. It just didn’t feel right.”

He added that he “joyfully based” the voice on a character played by Peter Sellers in 1968 film The Party – something he had no idea had come to be regarded as racist.

“That represents a real blind spot I had,” Azara continued. “There I am, joyfully basing a character on what was already considered quite upsetting.”

Azaria revealed that he attended seminars about racism and read articles about representation following the broadcast of The Problem With Apu.

It was soon after that he told the long-running animated show’s producers he wanted to quit.

“When I expressed how uncomfortable I was doing the voice of the character, they were very sympathetic and supportive,” Azaria continued. “We were all in agreement.”

Fans of The Simpsons based in the UK were furious to discover that the series will not be available to watch on Disney+, when the streaming service is finally released in the UK next month.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in