Born Henry Albert Azaria
April 25, 1964 (age 51)
Queens, New York, United States
Actor Voice actor Comedian Producer
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Helen Hunt (1999–2000)
Katie Wright (?–present)
Henry Albert “Hank” Azaria (born April 25, 1964) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian and producer. He is known for being one of the voice actors on the animated television sitcom The Simpsons (1989–present), voicing Moe Szyslak, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson and numerous others. After attending Tufts University, Azaria joined the series with little voice acting experience, but became a regular in its second season, with many of his performances on the show being based on famous actors and characters.
Along with the series, Azaria became more widely known through his live-action appearances in films, such as The Birdcage (1996), Godzilla (1998), Mystery Men (1999), America’s Sweethearts (2001), Shattered Glass (2003), Along Came Polly (2004), Run Fatboy Run (2007), Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and The Smurfs (2011).
He also had recurring roles on the television series Mad About You and Friends, played the titular character in the drama Huff (2004–2006), and appeared in the popular stage musical Spamalot. Though originally known as a comic actor, Azaria has also taken on more dramatic roles including the TV films Tuesdays With Morrie (1999) and Uprising (2001). He has won five Emmys and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Azaria was married to actress Helen Hunt from 1999 to 2000.
Azaria was born in Queens, New York, the son of Sephardic Jewish parents, Ruth (Altcheck) and Albert Azaria. His grandparents on both sides hailed from Thessaloniki, Greece, and his family spoke Ladino. Azaria’s father ran several dress-manufacturing businesses, while his mother raised him and his two older sisters, Stephanie and Elise. Before marrying his father, Azaria’s mother had been a publicist for Columbia Pictures, promoting films in Latin American countries, as she was fluent in both English and Spanish. During his childhood, Azaria often “memorize and mimic” the scripts of the films, shows and stand-up comedy routines that he enjoyed.
Azaria attended The Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills. He decided to become an actor after performing in a school play at the age of 16, becoming, at the expense of his academic studies, “obsessed with acting.” Both of his parents loved all forms of show business, which further spurred him to become an actor. He studied drama at Tufts University from 1981 to 1985, where he met and befriended actor Oliver Platt and noted that “Oliver was a better actor than I was in college, and he really inspired me.” Together they both starred in various college stage productions, including The Merchant of Venice, before Azaria trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Although he did not expect the endeavor to be successful, Azaria decided to become a professional actor, so that later in his life, he would not regret not having tried. Azaria’s first acting job was an advertisement for Italian television when he was seventeen years old. He also worked as a busboy. Azaria originally intended to work predominantly as a theatrical actor, and he and Platt set up their own company, named Big Theatre, although Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter was the only thing they ever performed. He decided that television was a better arena and offered more opportunity so, after being offered work with talent agent Harry Gold, Azaria moved to Los Angeles.
In the early 1990s, Azaria was in a relationship with the actress Julie Warner. His relationship with actress Helen Hunt began in 1994; they married in a traditional Jewish ceremony at the couple’s home in Southern California on July 17, 1999. The two had appeared together in Mad About You and “Dumbbell Indemnity”, an episode of The Simpsons. After a year of marriage, Azaria moved out of the couple’s home, and after a six-month separation, Hunt filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences”. The divorce was finalized on December 18, 2000.
Azaria began dating former actress Katie Wright in 2007, and the two later married. They have a son together, Hal, who was born in 2009. In 2013, the family moved to New York, renting a home on 80th Street, with plans to make a final decision on where to live in two years. They previously lived in a four-bedroom house in Pacific Palisades, which Azaria bought from his The Simpsons’ co-star Dan Castellaneta and his wife Deb Lacusta in 2011. Several weeks earlier, Azaria sold his home in Bel Air. Azaria previously owned the fifth-floor co-op loft at 84 Mercer Street in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, which he bought in 2005 from photographer Cindy Sherman, before selling it in 2013.
Azaria is the godfather of Oliver Platt’s son, George. He is also a regular poker player, appearing twice on Celebrity Poker Showdown and competing at other events, finishing a few places short of the bubble in the main event of the 2010 World Series of Poker. Politically, Azaria has made contributions that support the Democratic Party. He enjoys the music of Elvis Costello, and has stated that he would have been a therapist if he were not an actor. He considers The Godfather Trilogy to be what inspired him to become an actor, and counts Peter Sellers and Walt Frazier as his heroes. Azaria co-founded the educational support charity, “Determined to Succeed”.