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20/01/2020 7:19 AM AEDT

The Simpsons: Apu Voice Actor Hank Azaria Won't Play Character In Future Episodes

The character has proved to be controversial in recent years, largely thanks to the documentary The Problem With Apu.

The Simpsons actor Hank Azaria has confirmed that he will no longer be voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

Hank has been part of the show’s cast for 30 years, playing popular characters including bartender Moe Syzlak, scientist Professor John Frink and police chief Clancy Wiggum.

However, in recent years, his portrayal of Apu has come under fire – including in a 2017 documentary titled The Problem With Apu – with many questioning whether it’s appropriate for a white actor to voice a South Asian character with an Indian accent.

Apu has not been seen on screen in many years, with Hank now confirming that he will no longer he providing his voice.

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Apu in The Simpsons

When asked about Apu’s future in a recent interview, Hank told SlashFilm: “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s someway to transition it or something.

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

Back in 2018, Hank said he’d be happy to stop playing the character, after The Simpsons alluded to the controversy in an episode of the show, which came under fire after it was suggested that fans were being oversensitive about the issue.

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The Simpsons was heavily panned over this scene, which alluded to the controversy relating to Apu

“I had nothing to do with the writing or the voicing [in that episode],” he told US talk show host Stephen Colbert. “I think if anyone came away from that segment thinking they need to lighten up…that’s definitely not the message that I want to send.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened. I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it.”

He added: “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room…including how he is voiced or not voiced.

“I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.”

Amy Sussman via Getty Images
Hank Azaria

During Hank’s time on the show, Apu has been involved in some big episodes, including his marriage to Manjula, the birth of his octuplet children and a storyline revolving around the scapegoating of immigrants by politicians.

Apu is probably best remembered for the episode Homer And Apu, in which the character performed the iconic song Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart?.

The Simpsons celebrated its 30th anniversary last month, and could well be about to win itself a wave of new fans when it debuts on the streaming service Disney+, which is coming to the UK later this year.

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