‘The Simpsons’ actor Hank Azaria feels he needs to ‘personally apologize’ to every Indian for Apu

Hank Azaria says he wants to apologize to every Indian in America for his racist portrayal of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian convenience-store worker, on “The Simpsons.” 

During Monday’s episode of actor Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast, Azaria, who is not South Asian, opened up about voicing the controversial Indian character (who has a thick, fake Indian accent) for 30 years.

“There were very good intentions on all of our parts. We tried to do a funny, thoughtful character,” Azaria told Shepard and cohost Monica Padman. “And just because there were good intentions, it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences that I am accountable for.” 

Azaria came face-to-face with one such “real negative consequence” of Apu, he said, when he visited his son’s school a few years ago and met a 17-year-old Indian American student who knew about Apu without having watched a single episode of “The Simpsons.”

“It’s practically a slur at this point,” Azaria said of Apu’s portrayal on the podcast. “All he knows is this is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country still.”

“With tears in his eyes, he said to me, and it was so sweet the way he put it,” he continued. “‘Will you please tell the writers in Hollywood that what they do and what they come up with matters in people’s lives? Like, it has consequences?'”

“I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that,” Azaria added. “Part of me feels like I need to go on to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes, I do.”

Criticism surrounding Apu first gained traction with the release of “The Problem With Apu,” a 2017 documentary by Indian American comic Hari Kondabolu, which examines the stereotypical character’s negative impact on South Asian communities. 

Image courtesy of (Image courtesy: nme.com)

Share this post