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Simpsons Apu actor Hank Azaria would be 'happy' to step aside from role following racial stereotype row

The actor who plays the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in The Simpsons has said he is "willing" to step aside from the role.

Hank Azaria's comments come after controversy over the racial stereotyping of the character sparked by American comedian Hari Kondabol's documentary called The Problem with Apu.

Mr Azaria, who has voiced Apu since the long running animation began in 1990, also called for more diversity and inclusion in the show's writers during an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Hank Azaria was speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Credit: AP

The actor said he hoped The Simpsons creators would take his comments on board, despite the creators seemingly dismissing the row in a recent episode.

In a scene in the episode aired in early April, Marge reads a fairy-tale to her daughter Lisa, tweaking it to make it more politically correct. Lisa objects and in response to her mother asking her what she can do says: "It's hard to say. Something that started a long time ago decades ago, that was applauded and was inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"

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Mr Kondabolu criticised the scene as dismissive. He tweeted: “Wow. ‘Politically incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie and the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad.”

In contrast, the stand-up comic thanked Mr Azaria for his response to the debate.

Mr Azaria told US chat show host Stephen Colbert: "I think the most important thing is that we have to listen to south Asian people, Indian people in this country.

"As you know, in television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers' room.

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"I really want to see Indian, south Asian writer, writers, in the room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced.

"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. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me."

Last week, Al Jean, the executive producer of The Simpsons, tweeted that he would “try to find an answer” to the controversy. “I truly appreciate all responses pro and con,” he wrote. He said he would try to find an answer that is popular and "more important right.”