'The Simpsons' Star Hank Azaria Will No Longer Voice Apu [TCA 2020]

/Film has been covering the issue of Apu on The Simpsons since Hank Azaria addressed Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem with Apu two years ago. The issue gained more attention when The Simpsons produced an episode, "No Good Read Goes Unpunished", that specifically addressed it. Voice actor Hank Azaria told Stephen Colbert he would be willing to step aside as the voice, but subsequent to that, Al Jean and Matt Groening have preferred not to talk about Apu in interviews with /Film. After a panel for the final season of his IFC series Brockmire, Azaria himself answered /Film's question about Apu.

Hank Azaria has retired as Apu’s voice

There have been rumors about what The Simpsons would do about Apu, but none were substantiated. Producer Adi Shankar said sources told him the show would phase out Apu, but showrunner Jean denied that. Groening told /Film Azaria never mentioned wanting to stop doing the caricature voice while he was promoting his Netflix series Disenchantment. However, Azaria has confirmed he will not do the voice anymore."All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's someway to transition it or something," Azaria said.This is great news. It shows The Simpsons has empathy for a segment of their audience and that they're open to the possibility of evolving. The idea of transitioning Azaria's voice to an actual Indian actor has been floated, although Azaria only mentioned it as speculation. The only question is this: why keep this such a secret? The Simpsons has 31 years of good will. Embracing evolution and updating characters only shows their strength and relevance to recognize they can improve on the way they did things in the past.

Apu could remain on The Simpsons

Groening told a fan at a convention that Apu would still be on The Simpsons and that could still be true. There are many ways to keep Apu without having Azaria do the voice. As suggested above, they could cast a new Indian actor with an authentic voice. They could make a joke about Apu changing his voice. That's out of Azaria's hands."What they're going to do with the character is their call," Azaria said. "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."

Azaria says it was a mutual decision 

Given the resistance to answering questions about Apu, it sounds like a surprisingly unanimous decision. Azaria indicated there was no resistance to phasing him out as the voice. One wonders why the show couldn't just share that news earlier. "We all made the decision together," Azaria said. "We all agreed on it. We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."As a lifelong Simpsons fan who has not missed an episode in 31 years, I am proud of the show for making this decision. I hope it become more public. The Indian community deserves to know they've been heard. Hopefully this is a step towards opening The Simpsons up so even more fans can love it as much as I have without feeling like the show is mocking them personally.