The Simpsons star Hank Azaria responds to Apu controversy

via CBS
via CBS /

After playing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu on The Simpsons for nearly 30 years, the character is now getting complaints, and voice actor Hank Azaria responds.

For almost three decades, Hank Azaria has voiced dozens of characters on The Simpsons. It seems there’s no role he can’t take on for the long-running animated series. And it seemed that, for all of this time, there really weren’t any complaints with the way any of these fictional characters were portrayed on the cartoon.

Fast forward to modern times, and there are some angry complaints with the show. Namely, Azaria’s Indian-American character Apu has come under a lot of fire as of late. The argument is that Apu is an offensive stereotype of Indian-Americans, and many people are calling for the show to abolish the character.

Last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Azaria stopped by for an interview with Colbert. Azaria admits he was at first surprised to hear about people being “bullied” because of this character. It makes him very sad, because his intention, as he tells Colbert, was only to bring joy and laughter to people.

“My eyes have been opened,” Azaria says when asked about plans for Apu moving forward. As of now, they don’t have a definitive plan figured out yet. But for what it’s worth, Azaria says he’s “more than happy to step aside” if the plan is to retire Apu, or at least change his voice or the way he speaks. Ultimately, the Simpsons crew is taking the concerns of those offended seriously,

You can watch Azaria’s interview with Colbert below, courtesy of CBS.

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New episodes of The Simpsons continue to air Sunday nights on FOX. As for Colbert, you can check out The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when it airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. EST on CBS.