The Simpsons' Hank Azaria explains decision to quit as Apu: "It just didn't feel right"

Sam Warner
Photo credit: Fox/Contributor - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

The Simpsons star Hank Azaria has opened up about his decision to leave the role of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon following a backlash over the character.

The actor confirmed he had stepped down from voicing the Kwik-E-Mart favourite earlier this year, after accusations that the character was racially problematic.

The argument was presented in a 2017 documentary called The Problem with Apu, and ever since there has been a wider discussion about the character.

Photo credit: Getty Images - Fox

Speaking about the decision to quit, Azaria told The New York Times: "Once I realised that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore. It just didn't feel right."

The actor explained that when the debate began, he was unsure what to do, and decided to learn more about representation and racism.

He also admitted that as a white Jewish man, he questioned how he would feel if there was a character in popular culture that mocked the same traits.

Photo credit: Amy Sussman - Getty Images

"But then I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that," the actor added.

Azaria further admitted he had a "blind spot" after partly basing Apu on a Peter Sellers character wearing brownface.

Photo credit: FOX/Contributor - Getty Images

Recalling the decision to tell the show's bosses that he no longer wanted to play the character, the actor said: "When I expressed how uncomfortable I was doing the voice of the character, they were very sympathetic and supportive. We were all in agreement."

Previously explaining what will happen to Apu going forward, Azaria said: "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 Simpsons airs on FOX in the US, and on Sky One in the UK.

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