In 2017, one of The Simpsons’ most loved but most problematic characters was pulled into focus when the documentary The Problem With Apu brought about some long-overdue questions.
Front-and-centre in the doco was Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and the fact that he had always been portrayed by white actor Hank Azaria and that the character was painted as a stereotypical Indian caricature.
Then, earlier this year and after three decades in the role, Azaria announced that he will no longer be playing the role.
In an interview on the podcast Armchair Expert, Azaria told Dax Shepherd and Monica Padman that he took some time to find out what people were feeling about the character before stepping away from the role.
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” Azaria said.
“A 17-year-old … he’s never ever seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means, it’s practically a slur at this point.”
He went on to say how hurt he felt in participating and creating the character, before offering his wide-reaching apology.
“Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise. And sometimes I do.”