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Hank Azaria Says He'd Be Willing to 'Step Aside' From 'Simpsons' Apu Role Following Controversy

Hank Azaria
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Hank Azaria on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on April 24, 2018. 

"The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad," the actor told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday's (Apr. 24) "Late Show."

Hank Azaria dropped by the Late Show on Tuesday night (Apr. 24)  to promote the new season of his IFC comedy Brockmire, and also address the recent controversy surrounding one of the characters he voices on The Simpsons, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. 

The character, an Indian immigrant who runs Springfield's local convenient store, was the subject of the recent documentary, The Problem With Apu, which criticized Azaria's voice portrayal as portraying a stereotype. When asked about the controversy surrounding his character, Azaria said, "Of course I understand. Its come to my attention more and more over the past couple years."

"The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad," the actor went on. "It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people." The long-running Fox show addressed the controversy in a recent episode, receiving further criticism from some for brushing it off. In response, showrunner Al Jean vowed to make it "right."

Speaking to the Simpsons response on the issue, Azaria said, “I had nothing to do with the writing or the voicing [in that episode]. I think if anyone came away from that segment thinking they need to lighten up…that’s definitely not the message that I want to send."

When asked by Colbert about the future of the character, Azaria was open to change. "I’ve given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened," he said. "I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room…including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me."

This article originally appeared on THR.com.

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