(ABC NEWS)- Longtime “Simpsons” actor Hank Azaria says he’s willing to retire or change the voice of controversial character Apu after mounting resistance online, calling the Indian-American Kwik-E-Mart owner a racially offensive vestige of the past.
Two weeks ago, the show addressed the topic in its own way, with characters Marge and Lisa Simpson discussing changing times and perceptions. That episode faced severe backlash for not taking the issue and the character more seriously.
Now, Azaria himself says he’s given this a lot of thought and “my eyes have been opened.”
“I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character,” he said Tuesday night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
He continued, “And as you know, in television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers’ room. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced. You know, I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new.”
Azaria, 54, added that he hopes the showrunners agree and make some kind of change.