Comedian Kevin Hart has decided against returning as the 2019 Oscars host after talk show host Ellen DeGeneres pushed for the move on the A-lister’s behalf.
In a Friday interview with Variety, Hart said that while hosting the annual awards ceremony would have been a dream come true, he’s more interested in looking to the future than the past.
“Would I ever do it? No, it’s done. It’s done,” Hart said. “The moment came and it was a blessing and I was excited at the opportunity and I still am. In my mind I got the job, it was a dream job, and things came up that simply prohibited it from happening. But I don’t believe in going backwards.”
“When I go on that stage, it will be because I’ve somehow figured out a way to win the Oscar,” he added. “Somehow I’ll get to the stage but it’s not going to be in this way because it just comes with such a weird cloud at this point. There’s no ill will toward the Academy.”
Capping a swift and dramatic fallout, Hart announced in December, merely two days after being hired for the job, that he was stepping down as Oscars host because he didn’t want to be a distraction. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” said Hart.
In an emotional interview airing Friday, DeGeneres revealed to Hart that she called the Academy this week to urge that the Central Intelligence star be brought back, and was told that officials would be “thrilled” if he did.
An appreciative Hart said he would reconsider his decision to step down as host of the Academy Awards. He had backed away two days after being named host last month when some homophobic tweets he had made a decade ago resurfaced.
“You have grown,” DeGeneres told the comic. “You have apologized. You’re apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let these people win. Host the Oscars.” Hart told her that “you have put a lot of things on my mind” and that he would think about their conversation.
Hart wrote so-called homophobic remarks on Twitter mostly between 2009-2011, including one where he said: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’” It was later deleted. He has also made anti-gay comments in his standup act in the past.
In an opinion-editorial published Friday in Variety, columnist Caroline Framke argued that Hart hadn’t proven that he had learned much from the scandal.
“If he gets the job back, it won’t be because he’s convinced his detractors that he actually cares about gay people,” Framke wrote. “It’ll be because he spun a story about vicious trolls going after him for no good reason. It might be a compelling enough angle to convince DeGeneres and her audience, but even if it manages to sway the Academy, it still won’t actually be true.”
DeGeneres was met with criticism on social media, with some commenters saying that Hart’s homophobic jokes were a legitimate issue for discussion, and it wasn’t a case of people maliciously trying to hurt him.
In response to her critics, the daytime host wrote on Twitter: “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances.”
The Academy has not named a replacement host for its February 24 awards show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.