It's the end of an era. Hank Azaria, one of the core cast members on The Simpsons, has revealed that he is stepping down as the voice of Apu. This comes after debate has raged about the character for more than two years now. Filmmaker Hari Kondabolu made the documentary The Problem with Apu, which debuted in 2017 and highlighted the cultural insensitivities of the character, a stereotyped Indiana-American voiced by a white man. Ever since, there has been pressure on the producers and Fox to make some changes.
Hank Azaria made the reveal during a stop at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Azaria, who voices characters such as Chief Wiggum and Moe, amongst many others on The Simpsons, was there promoting the final season of his show Brockmire. At one point, the subject of Apu came up and Azaria set the record straight, revealing his time voicing the Kwik-E-Mart employee is over. Here's what Azaria had to say.
"All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's some way to transition it or something... 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."
Previously, it seemed like things weren't going to change. Longtime producer James L. Brooks and creator Matt Groening both indicated they intended to keep Apu on the show. That said, it's possible that could still be the case. Hank Azaria will not be voicing him anymore, but it's possible the show could bring in a new voice actor, an Indian voice actor, to take over the part.
Character voices have evolved so much during The Simpsons run, having been on the air for 31 seasons, that it would be relatively easy to play this whole thing off. Make a joke about the fact that Apu's voice has changed. Move on. The show has been renewed for season 32 by Fox, so we will be getting new episodes. It may be difficult to completely do away with Apu, given that he's such a staple of Springfield. Be that as it may, Hank Azaria explained that everyone was in agreement.
"We all made the decision together. We all agreed on it. We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."
We will undoubtedly be hearing more from the show's creative team on the matter as season 31 wraps up and as The Simpsons season 32 gears up. It will also be interesting to see how things wrap up with Hank Azaria as Apu, as his final episode as the character will likely air before the current season concludes. It may prove to be an unceremonious end. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news comes to us via Slash Film.