The Simpsons Apu Actor Hank Azaria Wants To Apologize To "Every Single Indian Person"

In a recent interview, the actor describes his personal path on stepping away from the role.

In a recent podcast interview, actor Hank Azaria said he wants to apologize to "every single Indian person" for the The Simpsons's problematic Apu character. Speaking on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman's podcast Armchair Expert (via CBS News), the actor described his journey of taking in the recent wave of controversy and pushback over the character, saying he "really didn't know any better before."

"This was not a two-week process," said Azaria. "I needed to educate myself a lot."

The Simpsons, which debuted as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987 and then graduated to its own half-hour primetime show on Fox in 1989, has had a steady reckoning with its outdated stances on representation. The show, which recently got renewed for its 33rd and 34th seasons, has typically been coy about how it would modernize and adapt.

A recent string of announcements have been consistently contradictory, with Azaria insisting the role has been retired, Simpsons creator Matt Groening saying he "didn't have a problem" with white actors playing Black roles, and then recently Groening also saying there are now "ambitious" plans for Apu that involve not casting a new actor in the role "if we can make the stories work." The show has recently recast Dr. Hibbert and Carl Carlson with Kevin Michael Richardson and Alex Désert, respectively.

For Azaria personally, he credits getting sober as a contributing factor in recognizing Apu's damaging nature and his role in perpetuating racism with it. Said Azaria, "If I had not gotten sober, I promise you it wouldn't have taken much wine for me to be in my feelings one night and fire off a tweet that I felt justified in firing off. Some kind of defensive, white-fragile tweet. Boy, was I glad I had a system in place where I could look at this thing."

The Simpsons recently aired its 700th episode in its 32nd season.

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