The Simpsons star Hank Azaria says the show will address Apu racism controversy following documentary
Azaria's comments come after the documentary The Problem With Apu by comic Hari Kondabolu, which explored the manner in which elements of the character allegedly reinforce racial stereotypes.
Hank Azaria, who lends his voice to the beloved character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons, said the makers of the hit animated sitcom will address the controversy after it was criticised for being racist.
The 53-year-old actor's comments come after the documentary The Problem With Apu by comic Hari Kondabolu, which explored the manner in which elements of the character allegedly reinforce racial stereotypes.
Azaria said it was "upsetting" for him both professionally and personally if Apu's part had caused grief to anyone as it was never the intent, reported Entertainment Weekly.
"The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, or the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing, especially in post-9/11 America...The idea that anybody was marginalised based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally. It's a character I've done for 29 years now, and I've done it with a lot of love, and joy, and pride. That certainly wasn't the intent."
Azaria told reporters at the TCA in Pasadena during a panel that his intent was to "make people laugh and bring joy" and not "to cause suffering or pain in any way."
Azaria, who has played Apu for nearly 30 years on the sitcom and earned three Emmy Awards for his work, said he believes it is important to listen when people express themselves about racial issues. Going forward, he said The Simpsons producers will address the controversy.
"The most important thing to do is listen, try to understand, try to sympathise, which is what I'm doing. I know that The Simpsons guys are doing that too; they're giving it a lot of thought, and we've discussed a little bit. They will definitely address - maybe publicly, certainly creatively within the context of the show - what they want to do, if anything, with the character," he said.
Azaria had earlier said Kondabolu's documentary helped raise an "important conversation" with respect to Apu's part.
With inputs from agencies