Hank Azaria announces he will no long voice Apu on The Simpsons amidst controversy

Danny Thompson
Hank Azaria of "Brockmire" speaks during the IFC segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 16, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Hank Azaria has announced he will no longer voice the controversial Simpsons character Apu.

Azaria, who has been voicing the Kwik-E-Mart worker since the much-loved show’s inception more than thirty years ago, made the announcement during an interview with Slashfilm at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour.

He said: “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something.

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“We all made the decision together… We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.

"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 character of Apu has always been one which relied heavily on stereotypes that are easy to understand could be considered offensive, particularly as the actor voicing him, Azaria, is white and has no connection to South Asia at all.

The issues surrounding the character were raised and made mainstream by Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu.

Hari Kondabolu attends the Urban Arts Partnership's AmplifiED Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Urban Arts Partnership )

The writer and comic has taken to social media to give his view on Azaria’s announcement.

Kondabolu tweeted: “If Hank Azaria is indeed no longer doing the voice of Apu, I do hope they keep the character & let a very talented writing staff do something interesting with him.

“If not to better the show, then to at least spare me some death threats.”

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He continued: “My documentary “The Problem with Apu” was not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to discuss race, representation & my community (which I love very much).

“It was also about how you can love something (like the Simpsons) & still be critical about aspects of it (Apu).

“Most people who saw the documentary like it & those that didn’t see it...hate it. You can see it on Amazon, truTV app & other places.

“Feel free to watch it by legal or illegal means. I don’t get paid more either way & it’s the message of the film that has the most value to me.”

Azaria will remain on the show voicing other regular characters such as Moe Szyslak and Chief Wiggum, amongst others.