Hank Azaria has retired as the voice of Apu on “The Simpsons” according to the actor himself today during a panel for the final season of his IFC series “Brockmire”.
Azaria has voiced the character of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetilon since the first season of “The Simpsons” back in 1990, but in recent years the character and show have come under fire with claims of Apu being a caricature that plays on too many negative stereotypes.
Things came to a head in 2017 with Hary Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu” garnered the issue much more attention, and when initially addressed with a throwaway line in the series by the writers – it only led to a bigger backlash.
Azaria previously told Stephen Colbert he would be willing to step aside as the voice, but otherwise those involved in the show have generally opted not to talk about Apu in interviews.
Today, speaking with Slashfilm, he says his walking away from the role was a mutual decision by all involved:
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something… 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. We all made the decision together. We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”
No word if the plan is to transition to an Indian actor with an authentic voice to play the character, or if the character will be retooled or removed altogether.