Hank Azaria Breaks His Silence On The Future Of Apu On ‘The Simpsons’

Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu touched a nerve with many who never really gave much thought to how The Simpsons character was perceived to those he represented in the real world. For Kondabolu in the New York Times, “everything with Apu is like this running joke. And the running joke is that he’s Indian.” The comedian interviewed other South Asian actors and actresses in the documentary — currently streaming on truTV.com if you haven’t seen it — for their takes on the character, with his eventual goal being an interview with Hank Azaria about his take on the character and what he thinks about it. He explained this goal in our interview back in November:

“Even when trying to get Hank to go on record, I just wanted to have a conversation with him. I didn’t want to grill him. I wanted a conversation because, ultimately, it’s the awkward conversations that actually move us forward. It’s actually having discussions that aren’t always clean, and that aren’t necessarily scripted, that actually force us to look within ourselves and figure out if we feel good about the choices we’ve made. That’s how we talk about how people view each other. Those are hard conversations. Or at least that’s what I was trying to get out of this…

“If he wanted to talk publicly and chat about the film, I would absolutely take him up on that. I think that’s what this film is about — talking about the history of the Apu character, and The Simpsons‘ use of him, as well as what my community has been through as a result. It’s all about this conversation.”

Azaria still hadn’t made a public comment after the documentary aired, he was finally cornered by a TMZ reporter while at the airport and gave his thoughts on the documentary and what the long-running show is planning to do with Apu:

“I think the documentary made some really interesting points and gave us a lot to think about, and we really are…

“To hear that anybody that was hurt and offended by any character or vocal performance is really upsetting, that it was offensive or hurtful to anybody.”

TMZ takes this as an indication that The Simpsons might be looking into getting rid of Apu from Springfield. However, his response isn’t far off from his comments from 2013 about the character and his performance according to HuffPost:

On a weekly half-hour show, time is not on Azaria’s side. His one regret: “I didn’t have a chance to spend more time doing what I would consider a more perfected Indian dialect. That said, I don’t know if it would have taken the edge off for somebody it bothered.”

As HuffPost points out, Azaria was given control over the initial characterization of Apu on the show and based it on Peter Sellers’ Indian impression from the 1968 film The Party — another performance mentioned in the documentary. Will Apu actually be saying goodbye from The Simpsons?

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