Hank Azaria Biography - Biography

Hank Azaria Biography

Actor (1964–)
As a voice actor, Hank Azaria has brought many characters to life on The Simpsons. He's also appeared in other memorable roles in movies, television and on the stage.

Who Is Hank Azaria?

Actor Hank Azaria (born April 25, 1964) voices numerous characters on the long-running animated TV series The Simpsons. He's also acted in films such as The Birdcage, Along Came Polly and Pretty Woman; on TV he's been seen in Friends, Ray Donovan, Brockmire and Tuesdays With Morrie; and he was part of the original Broadway cast for Monty Python's Spamalot. Azaria has won Emmy Awards for both his voice acting and live action performances. He and partner Katie Wright have a son, who was born in 2009.

Hank Azaria Photo

Hank Azaria enters the 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on March 28, 2017 in New York City. 

Wife 

Azaria has been romantically partnered with former actress Katie Wright since 2007.

In 2012, when asked about marriage plans, Azaria said of his relationship with Wright, "We pretty much are [married]. We can't get more married than we are."

Voices for 'The Simpsons'

When he was 23, Azaria started out as a voice actor for Fox's The Simpsons (1989 - present). He has about thirty different voices that are in regular rotation on the show.

'Simpsons' Characters

Among the Simpsons roles Azaria plays are Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Officer Lou, Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, Cletus, Professor Frink and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

In addition to these characters, Azaria's voiced numerous smaller parts. He told The A.V. Club in 2011, "I say with pride that I’ve done over a hundred voices or something." But he also admitted in a 2013 interview, "[A]t some point with The Simpsons, I think we did run into like, everything. Even if it’s just a line or two, I’ve done just about every voice I can do."

Apu Controversy

The character of Apu is an Indian immigrant who runs a Kwik-E-Mart convenience store. Azaria has admitted he had little time to work on an Indian accent before starting with the part, and that some of the inspiration for the voice he used came from British actor Peter Sellers playing an Indian in The Party (1968).

Comedian Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem With Apu (2017) delved into what it was like for people of South Asian heritage to grow up in America with Apu, who was one of the few South Asian characters on television, but who embodied numerous stereotypes while being voiced by a white man. Azaria did not participate in an interview for the documentary.

After the documentary's release, Azaria said he'd been upset to learn that anyone had been teased or hurt because of this character. And in April 2018, while talking to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Azaria said he wants "to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character." He noted that one option is for him to stop voicing the character, adding, "I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new."

'Simpsons' Success and Income

Brought in to replace another actor, Azaria was initially working week to week on The Simpsons, and didn't feel secure in the job — in a 2017 interview, he admitted, "I was genuinely surprised each week when they called me to come back."

However, Azaria remained with the show, and went on to win four Emmy Awards for his vocal work: in 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2015. He also voiced characters for The Simpsons Movie (2007).

When The Simpsons started out, Azaria (and other voice actors) made $30,000 per episode. That changed in 1998, when their pay went up to $125,000 per episode. In 2004, this climbed to between $250,000-$360,000; in 2008, they arrived at $400,000 per episode.

Fox argued that declining ratings and revenue meant they needed to cut production costs, and in 2011 the actors agreed to a pay cut, going down to $300,000 per episode.

Movies

In 1996 Azaria had a breakthrough role as Guatemalan houseboy Agador Spartacus in Mike Nichols's The Birdcage, with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Originally he was only supposed to appear in one scene, but when two parts were combined Azaria ended up with a larger role.

To play a scuba instructor in Along Came Polly (2004), Azaria perfected his French accent. And as a young Patches O'Houlihan in Dodgeball (2003), Azaria combined an impression of Clark Gable with the vocal inflections of a young Rip Torn.

Azaria portrayed Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano in Lovelace (2013), a biopic of adult film star Linda Lovelace. He's also appeared in more family-friendly fare: as a villainous pharaoh in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009), and as Smurf-hating Gargamel in The Smurfs (2011) and The Smurfs 2 (2013).

Among Azaria's numerous other film credits are Quiz Show (1994), Heat (1995) and 1998's Godzilla. One of the first films in which he had dialogue was Pretty Woman (1990).

Television

'Brockmire'

Azaria portrays the title character in Brockmire, an IFC show that first aired in 2017 (after getting its start as a short on Funny or Die in 2010). Playing Jim Brockmire, a former Major League Baseball announcer who's trying to rebuild his life and career, lets baseball fan Azaria use a vocal style he learned from years spent listening to announcers.

From 2004 to 2006, Azaria starred as psychiatrist Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt on Showtime's Huff, which gave him a chance to work with friend and college classmate Oliver Platt. In 2011 he appeared opposite Kathryn Hahn in the short-lived Free Agents. His credits also include being a regular on the Fox sitcom Herman's Head (1991-94).

Azaria voiced a bigoted border agent on the animated series Bordertown (2016), which only lasted for one season.

TV Movies

In Tuesdays With Morrie (1999), Azaria took on the role of real-life sportswriter Mitch Albom. The movie, an adaptation of Albom's book about the visits he made to his dying mentor, also starred Hollywood legend Jack Lemmon as Morrie. Azaria received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role.

In HBO's The Wizard of Lies, about Bernie Madoff and his fraudulent financial schemes, Azaria got the chance to work with Robert De Niro. De Niro appeared as Madoff while Azaria portrayed Madoff lieutenant Frank Dipascali.

Guest Roles

Azaria was seen on Showtime's Ray Donovan as sociopathic, ethically challenged FBI director Ed Cochran. In 2016, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for this part.

Though he unsuccessfully auditioned (twice) for the part of Joey on Friends, Azaria appeared on the show as David the Scientist Guy, a love interest for Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe. Azaria also played Nat the dog walker on Mad About You, a sitcom that starred his then-girlfriend Helen Hunt.

In the late 1980s, as he was starting his career, Azaria landed jobs on the TV shows Family Ties and Growing Pains.

When Was Hank Azaria Born?

Hank Azaria was born as Henry Albert Azaria on April 25, 1964, in Queens, New York.

Ex-Wife Helen Hunt

After five years together, Azaria and Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt wed on July 17, 1999. However, the two separated after about a year of marriage; Hunt filed for divorce in December 2000.

Broadway Performances

In 2005 Azaria made his Broadway debut in Monty Python's Spamalot as Sir Lancelot (along with a few other roles) and received a Tony Award nomination.

In 2007 Azaria starred in the Aaron Sorkin play The Farnsworth Invention.

Early Life and Background

Azaria is of Sephardic Jewish descent; his grandparents immigrated to the United States (from Greece and Turkey) in the early 20th century.

Azaria's father worked in the garment industry while his Spanish-speaking mother handled publicity for Columbia Pictures' Latin-American market. He has two older sisters.

Growing up in Forest Hills, Queens, Azaria mimicked people he heard and did impressions. In 2013, he told CBS This Morning, "I thought everybody could do it. I didn't realize it was a skill you had. I thought everyone could imitate everything."

As a boy, Azaria became a devoted Mets fan; he has specified, "I’m a Mets fan, not a baseball fan. There’s a difference."

Education

Azaria was a student at Kew-Forest School in Queens. An appearance in a school play at the age of 16 sparked his love of acting. He went on to Tufts University.

Family Life

While Azaria was working on a documentary called Fatherhood in order to delve into his feelings about potentially becoming a parent, he learned that his girlfriend Katie Wright was pregnant.

On June 6, 2009, son Hal was born 10 weeks early and spent seven weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit before being released.

Azaria and his family have a home in Westchester County, New York, and a place in New York City.

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