The longtime voice actor, 55, revealed that he made a final decision about no longer voicing Apu while speaking to Splashfilm at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Friday, January 17. In 2017, Azaria’s character became the subject of criticism following comedian Hari Kondabolu‘s documentary, The Problem With Apu.
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” the Brockmire star explained, adding that it was a mutual decision between him and the show’s creators. “What they’re going to do with the character is their call. 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.”
The Problem With Apu sparked a conversation about the history of the animated character, whom many believe to be a hurtful caricature of Indian-Americans. After releasing the documentary in 2017, Kondabolu, 37, told Splitsider that he still loves The Simpsons despite his issues with the character of Apu.
“It’s weird to love something but to have it hurt you in this way,” the comedian said at the time. “I knew that it was going to be harder to create things and be an entertainer because expectations were often based on it.”
“My eyes have been opened. And 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 and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been,” the actor said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Azaria, who also voices Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy on the animated series, is uncertain what will happen to Apu next. Kondabolu, however, said on Twitter that he hopes the show will “keep the character and let a very talented writing staff do something interesting with him.”
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