'The Simpsons' would have cast Apu Nahasapeemapetilon with someone "ethnically correct" if they could do so again
Hank Azaria originally provided the voice for the Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, but in 2017 the show came under fire for making the Indian-American character a racist caricature, who was voiced by a white actor, and so the shopkeeper was dropped from the programme earlier this year
27 March 2020
However, show bosses are still "proud" of the character because he was always portrayed in a positive light, but they wish they'd cast someone else in the role.
© 2020 Bang Showbiz, NZCity
Showrunner Al Jean told Radio Times magazine: "If we were casting the character now, we'd cast someone who was ethnically correct to play Apu.
"The way we always wrote him, though, was as a hardworking, thoughtful family man who was smarter than everyone else in Springfield. The majority of the jokes were about Springfield not appreciating what a gem he is. So we're proud of him."
Hank - who also voices characters including Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, and Carl Carlson - previously admitted it "didn't feel right" voicing Apu anymore because of the backlash.
He said: "Once I realised that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore. It just didn't feel right."
And the 55-year-old star, who is Jewish, also admitted he can understand the negative reaction toward the character, as he would be equally offended by a character that played up Jewish stereotypes.
He added: "I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that."
The conversation around Apu began in Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary 'The Problem with Apu', which explored whether or not Apu's character had contributed to negative stereotypes of Indian-Americans.