Kevin Hart has been urged to reconsider his decision to pull out of hosting the Oscars amid controversy over homophobic tweets he posted almost a decade ago by Ellen DeGeneres.
The US comedian and actor was named as host for next month’s Academy Awards but pulled out after offensive tweets, originally posted between 2009 and 2011, resurfaced.
Hart, 39, initially rejected the Academy’s demand he apologize, arguing that he previously said sorry when the offending tweets first emerged, before apologizing again to the LGBT community and standing down as presenter of the ceremony.
Hart was interviewed by DeGeneres, who is openly gay and who has previously hosted the Oscars herself, for an episode of her chat show due to air on Friday.
She told him she had spoken to a person at the Academy who allegedly said they wanted him to return as host.
In a preview clip from the interview, she told him: “I called the Academy today, I really want you to host the Oscars, I was so excited when I heard they asked you, I knew how important it was to you.
“I called them, I said I have no idea if he wants to come back and host and, I asked for their thoughts. They were like, ‘oh my God, we want him to host, we feel like maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host, whatever we can do we would be thrilled.”
Hart said he felt the resurfacing of his former tweets was an “attack”, an attempt to “destroy” him, adding: “It wasn’t a coincidence that the day after I received the job, these tweets just manifested.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 4, 2019
DeGeneres urged him again to rethink his stance, and that to not return to the Oscars would be to “let them win” and that “you can’t let them destroy you”.
She said the Academy has yet to find a replacement host for the ceremony in February, adding: “I think they were secretly hoping you’d come back.”
He said he is “evaluating this conversation”.
Hart also said of his decision to step down last month: “I do not want to stand on that stage and make that night about me and my past, when you have got people who have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive a reward.”
The Get Hard and Jumanji star added: “Either my apology is accepted or it isn’t. Either I can move forward as a person or I can’t. But you can’t grow as a person without mistakes.”
He said: “I am not perfect,” adding: “There is no perfect bone in my body, I have made mistakes and I have embraced them all because I am a better man today because of it.”
Of being given the “ultimatum” by the Academy in December to apologise or be replaced, he said: “What was once the brightest star, the brightest light ever, just got real dark.
“In this case, I just said I’m going to walk away because it felt like it was a conversation that was going to continue, I would much rather say I’m sorry again, and walk away.
“I want to be done with the conversation, I don’t want to have this conversation anymore. I know who I am.”
The Press Association has contacted the Academy.