Simpsons Actor Hank Azaria Confirms He Will No Longer Perform As Apu
Azaria has performed the role for 30 years, but no longer.
The Simpsons actor Hank Azaria will no longer perform the voice of convenience store owner Apu on the long-running animated show. Azaria has confirmed that he will step down from the role after years of controversy relating to what many view as a stereotypical and racially insensitive portrayal of the character.
As reported by Slashfilm, Azaria stated at a Television Critics Association event that he would no longer perform Apu on The Simpsons. "All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's someway to transition it or something," he said. "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."
Azaria also stated that this was a joint decision made between himself and the show's writers and producers. The actor has also appeared as many other Simpsons characters over the years, including Moe, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, and Carl Carlson.
Apu has appeared in the Simpsons since the very first season in 1990, but the issue of the racial stereotyping of the Indian-American character was brought to prominence in the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, which was directed by comedian Hari Kondabolu.
Azaria himself addressed the controversy the following year at the TCAs. "The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing." he said. "[Creating negative stereotypes] certainly wasn't the intent. The intent was to make people laugh and to bring joy. So that it caused any kind of pain or suffering in any way, it's disturbing, actually."
The Simpsons was one of the many shows that hit Disney+ in November last year. But although all 30 seasons to date are on there, there was some controversy over the fact that all the episodes are in 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning that the older seasons are cropped from their original 4:3 ratio. The studio subsequently stated that the first 19 seasons of the show will be made available in their original ratio in 2020.
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