Hank Azaria said he will no longer voice the character of Indian convenience store manager Apu on “The Simpsons.”
Azaria has been the thickly accented caricatured voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, manager of the show’s Kwik-E-Mart convenience store, for 30 years.
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” the comic actor told the entertainment industry news website SlashFilm.
Azaria began rethinking his contribution to the character after a 2017 documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” which highlighted the stereotypical presentation of the character.
In the wake of the documentary Azaria, who voices several other characters on the long-running animated series, told late night host Stephen Colbert that he would be willing to step aside from the role because “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad.”
The decision to remove Azaria from voicing Apu was mutual, the actor said, according to SlashFilm.
“We all agreed on it,” he said. “We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”
It is not known what will happen to the character. Series creator Matt Groening has said that Apu would still be on “The Simpsons,” according to SlashFilm, which suggested that the show could cast an Indian actor with an authentic voice.
“What they’re going to do with the character is their call,” Azaria said. “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.”