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The Simpsons' Hank Azaria Was First Hired For Another Cartoon That Never Aired

For over three decades, Hank Azaria has voiced some of the most iconic characters on one of television's most iconic shows, "The Simpsons." In fact, Azaria estimates that he's voiced more than a hundred "Simpsons" characters over the years, with about 30 series regulars (via WIRED). While one of those characters, Apu, was criticized for being a racial stereotype, ultimately leading to an apology from Azaria, the voice actor is perhaps better known as Moe the Bartender, Professor Frink, or Comic Book Guy, among many others.

Azaria joined "The Simpsons" in his early twenties, and now late into middle age, he's had an impressive career. From Tony-nominated Broadway performances to video game voiceovers, and even appearances on TV shows such "Friends," "Family Guy," and more. But before "The Simpsons" turned Azaria into a hot commodity, he was a young up-and-comer in Hollywood simply looking for work. And, as it turns out, he had one major role prior to "The Simpsons" which failed but ultimately ended up giving him his big break.

Hank Azaria was supposed to be the voice of the canceled Hollywood Dog

Before he was the voice of Moe the Bartender, Hank Azaria was hired as the voice of Hollywood Dog on a show appropriately titled "Hollywood Dog." It was a hybrid affair mixing live action with animation, as was a going trend at the time. Predominantly live-action, the main animated character was Hollywood Dog, a sendup of the sleazy Hollywood producer archetype (except, you know, a dog). Speaking to The Howard Stern Show, Azaria explained that the ill-fated series never saw fruition, saying, "It never even made it to the air. It was a pilot that never aired."

But while "Hollywood Dog" was lost to the sands of time, it inadvertently led to something much bigger. As a result of his work on the failed series, Azaria was hired for "The Simpsons." During that same interview, Azaria confirmed a rumor that someone involved with the "Hollywood Dog" project had helped him to land "The Simpsons." "It was the casting director at Fox ... who knew me from that and had me come in and read as Moe the Bartender," Azaria explained.

As with many entertainment careers, Azaria proves that the most significant opportunities aren't always the ones that make it to the screen. Were it not for the failure of "Hollywood Dog," we might never have known one of the most extraordinary voice talents "The Simpsons" ever discovered.