AceShowbiz - Hank Azaria has regretted his past decision to portray Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on "The Simpsons". More than a year after stepping down from voicing the Indian character, the Emmy-winning actor says he feels the need to personally apologize to Indian people.
The 56-year-old expressed his remorse when speaking to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman in the Monday, April 12 episode of "Armchair Expert" podcast. "I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do when it comes up," he pointed out
On how he took on the role, Hank recalled, "It's 1988, and somebody says to me, 'Hey, can you do an Indian accent?' It was, like, one line. I said, 'Yeah, I think so.' And Apu comes out. We're like 'OK, that was funny' and we all laugh." He then added, "So that keeps going from there, and over the years it develops."
Hank's character on the iconic FOX cartoon series has long been criticized. However, he divulged that Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary "The Problem With Apu" was the first to make him realize his mistake. "I got called out publicly," he spilled. "I got canceled - however you want to put it. And really intensely."
The "Brockmire" star then revealed it took three years for him to learn on racial issues. He mentioned that he "read, spoke to people who knew a lot about racism, spoke to lots of Indian people and went to seminars." He also remembered talking to a 17-year-old Indian guy who told him how Apu has led to racial stereotypes of his heritage.
"With tears in his eyes, he said to me, 'Will you please tell the writers in Hollywood that what they do and what they come up with really matters in people's lives, and it has consequences?' " the husband of Katie Wright recounted. "I was like, 'Yes, my friend - I will tell them that.' "
Having portrayed the character for around three decades, Hank admitted that it was "an example of structural racism" in the entertainment industry. "To me, participating in structural racism is about blind spots," he said. "I really didn't know any better. I don't love the term 'white privilege,' but it applies. I prefer 'relative advantage.' I was unaware of how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens."
"There were very good intentions on all of our part [with Apu]. We tried to do a funny, thoughtful character. Just because there were good intentions doesn't mean there weren't real negative consequences that I am accountable for," he continued. "Part of my amends for all this is that I'm continuing to educate myself."