Published Apr 25, 2018Last year, Hari Kondabolu exposed the racism of The Simpsons with his thought-provoking documentary The Problem with Apu. The show attempted to respond on-air with a tossed-off reference that managed to piss off most of the internet. Now, however, the tides are turning, and voice actor Hank Azaria said he's willing to step down from the role.
Last night (April 24), Azaria appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he pointed out that he was saddened to learn that people were bullied because of the character and the racial stereotypes depicted on The Simpsons.
"The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad," Azaria said. "It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people."
When the documentary first came out, Azaria said it gave him "a lot to digest." He's now arrived at the conclusion that playing the character in its current iteration is not an option.
"I've given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened," he told Colbert. "I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it."
He continued, "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 and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new. It not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me."
Watch Azaria's appearance on Colbert below. Hari Kondabolu shared the video on his Twitter, thanking Azaria for his words.