Carlos Alazraqui thinks his colleague and voice actor Hank Azaria made the right choice when he decided to stop lending his voice to characters of color on The Simpsons. This includes Indian convenient store owner Apu and Mexican TV star Pedro Chespiritio, aka Bumblebee Man, a caricature of El Chapulín Colorado made famous by Mexican comedian Roberto Gómez Bolaños.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Alazraqui told Remezcla during a recent interview to promote his new zombie comedy Witness Infection, which he wrote and stars in. “Hank is a really cool guy. It worked out for him and wasn’t a problem for him [to stop voicing non-white characters].”
During a recent interview on the Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria said part of him feels like he needs “to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize” for helping to create a stereotypical character like Apu. Many Indian people say the character has served as a catalyst for years of ridicule about their accent and culture.
Last summer, producers of The Simpsons said the characters of color on the show would only be voiced by actors of color. Today, the new Bumblebee Man, who Alazraqui got the opportunity to audition for, is voiced by Cuban actor Eric López (TV’s Victor & Valentino).
Although Alazraqui didn’t land the gig to be the new voice of Bumblebee Man, his schedule continues to be packed as it has been his entire career. He currently gives voices to characters on several animated TV series including The Funny Cartoons Show, The Casagrandes, Vampirina and Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.
For four seasons, he was the voice of Rocko in Rocko’s Modern Life. He was also the voice of the Taco Bell chihuahua who, like Apu and more recently Speedy Gonzales, was criticized for depicting negative stereotypes.
But now that “The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico” is returning for the upcoming Space Jam sequel, does Alazraqui think his Taco Bell chihuahua could make a comeback, too? Probably not, unless the breed of dog changed.
“There’s something to me about Latino machismo that says, ‘Wait a minute! Why do we have to be a chihuahua!? Why can’t we be a Rottweiler!?’” Alazraqui said. “I had my run, and it was fun, but it would never come back these days.”
Witness Infection is currently available on VOD platforms.