Hank Azaria is ready to stop voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu on “The Simpsons” in the wake of criticism that it’s a stereotype.
Azaria said on Tuesday’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that he hopes the Fox animated show makes a change, and he’s willing to step aside if necessary.
Azaria said: “I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does.”
He added: “It just feels like the right thing to do.”
People of South Asian heritage have criticized the heavily accented Apu for reinforcing stereotypes they say lead to bullying and self-loathing.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu” released late last year highlighted the issue and the impact the character had on the lives of South Asian-Americans.
A recent episode of “The Simpsons” titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished” addressed the controversy with Lisa saying “something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
The line drew widespread criticism and Kondabolu expressed disappointment with the writers of a show he said he “really loved”
Azaria said it makes him sad if anyone was bullied because of Apu. He said he “wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character.”