“The Simpsons” fixture Hank Azaria took issue with the show’s handling of a controversy over one of the dozens of characters he voices, Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu.
Azaria, who also voices Moe, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Professor Frink, Cletus and many other characters on the long-running animated hit, revealed his feelings about Apu during an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Azaria, who also stars in the IFC series “Brockmire,” commented on the response by “The Simpsons” to the Apu controversy, which has been interpreted by some of the show’s critics as an indication that the show is not going to change anything.
“That’s certainly not the way I feel about it, and that’s definitely not the message that I want to send” Azaria said. “We have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people, in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been.”
Azaria indicated he would be willing to “step aside” or “help transition it into something new,” adding that taking action on the Apu controversy “feels like the right thing to do.”
Azaria also said during the interview: “The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad. It was certainly not my intention. I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way — that it was used to marginalize people — it’s upsetting.”
Here’s a clip posted by CBS, in which Colbert and Azaria discuss the show’s response to the controversy …