Hank Azaria willing to stop voicing Apu on The Simpsons

Hank Azaria says he's ready to stop voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu should The Simpsons decide to make changes in the character in the wake of criticism that he's a stereotype.

Actor's appearance, comments draw praise online in light of critics calling character a stereotype

Actor Hank Azaria says he's willing to stop voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu on The Simpsons in the wake of criticism that it's a stereotype, should the character be dropped. (Associated Press)

Hank Azaria says he's ready to stop voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu should The Simpsons decide to make changes in the character in the wake of criticism that he's a stereotype.

Azaria said on Tuesday's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that he hopes the Fox animated show makes a change, and he's willing to step aside if necessary.

"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," Azaria said.

"It just feels like the right thing to do."

Azaria, at left, told The Late Show host Stephen Colbert that he hopes for a change toward better representation behind the scenes at The Simpsons. (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS/Associated Press)

People of South Asian heritage have criticized the heavily accented Apu for reinforcing stereotypes they say lead to bullying and self-loathing.

Azaria said it would make him sad if anyone was bullied because of Apu. He said he "wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character."