Simpsons star Hank Azaria wants to apologize to 'every Indian person in this country' for Apu
After stepping down from voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons last year, actor Hank Azaria is continuing to apologize for his role in promoting stereotypical depictions of Indian characters.
Azaria was a recent guest on the Armchair Expert podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, where he went into detail discussing his feelings about portraying the Indian store owner on the long-running Fox show.
"I really do apologize. It's important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do," Azaria admitted.
He detailed a story about how he had gone to speak at his son's school and how a 17-year-old boy — who had never seen The Simpsons but knew about Apu — came up to him with tears in his eyes because of how he'd seen himself represented.
"It's practically a slur at this point," Azaria told Shephard and Padman. "All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country."
In June of last year, Simpsons creator Matt Groening issued a statement that announced the show would no longer have white actors voicing non-white characters — a move made on the heels of many animated comedies examining how they portray race and culture in their characters. But Groening maintained he was "proud" of the character of Apu. On the podcast, Azaria defended his intentions for him.
"We tried to do a funny, thoughtful character. But just because there were good intentions doesn't mean there weren't real negative consequences that I am accountable for," said the actor.
Azaria still voices several other characters on the beloved animated show, including Chief Wiggum, Moe Szyslak, and more.