‘The Simpsons’ bosses have “ambitious” plans for Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
The Kwik-E Mart operator was previously played by Hank Azaria but following criticism of using a white actor to voice an Indian character, he stepped down last year, and though no one has yet been drafted in to take over as the shopkeeper, creator Matt Groening teased there are some ideas about what to do.
He said: “We’ve got plans for Apu, but we have to see if we can make the stories work.”
Asked if there’s a new actor lined up to voice Apu, he added to USA Today newspaper: “No. We’re working on something kind of ambitious. That’s all I can say.”
Despite criticism that Apu perpetuates stereotypes, Matt insisted he is “proud” of the character and he’s always been given “fantastic” storylines.
He said: “I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show. So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu… I’m trying not to open up another chasm of criticism, but it doesn’t matter what I say. I’ll get it anyway.”
Last year, the show announced white actors would no longer voice non-white characters, but Matt admitted that wasn’t his “idea”, though he welcomes being “more inclusive”.
He said: It was not my idea, but I’m fine with it. Who can be against diversity? So it’s great. However, I will just say that the actors were not hired to play specific characters. They were hired to do whatever characters we thought of.
“To me, the amazing thing is seeing all our brilliant actors who can do multiple voices, do multiple voices. That’s part of the fun of animation.
“However, to be more inclusive and hire more people, I’m completely in favour of that.”
But asked if it would have been better to hire a more diverse cast years ago, he added: “Yeah. And I hear they want to take the guns away from Yosemite Sam. He’s a little hot-headed.”