Kevin Hart, who resigned from hosting the 91st Academy Awards after old homophobic tweets of his resurfaced, recently visited “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to address the Oscars controversy for the first time.
The interview, which can be seen on Friday’s episode, was originally scheduled to air on Monday, but the conversation was so “incredible and honest,” according to DeGeneres, that she didn’t want her viewers to have to wait.
Hart opens up to DeGeneres about being hired to host the 2019 Oscars, which he describes as a dream come true, especially as he would have been only the fourth African-American to host the ceremony. However, the dream soon came crashing down.
“After a day full of celebrations and congratulations, I’m hit with an onslaught, on social media, of my past, coming back up again… literally the next morning,” the comedian says, referring to the homophobic tweets he posted between 2009-11.
Hart explains that his initial reaction was to ignore the drama. “This is stuff I’ve addressed, I’ve talked about this,” he says. “This isn’t new. I’ve addressed it. I’ve apologized for it.” But the more he ignored the problem, the worse it got.
The 39-year-old “Night School” star reveals he started to get upset when his name began to be slandered in the media, with headlines claiming he “refused” to apologize for the homophobic tweets.
“I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I know that I’ve addressed it, I know that I’ve apologized. I know that I’ve taken the ten years to put my apology to work. I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian that once was. I’ve moved on.”
Hart was mad that the media continued to twist the story without referencing his previous apologies from ten years ago. When he received the ultimatum from the Academy to either apologize or step down as host, he said it was like a dark cloud had descended over everything.
“Now all of a sudden it’s a little darker,” he continues, “because the conversation isn’t about me hosting the Oscars, the conversation is about Kevin Hart’s tweets from ten years ago and homophobia. I don’t want to step on that stage and make that night about me and my past.”
Hart reveals that rather than take the focus away from the talent receiving awards, he chose to step down as host while offering yet another apology.
“You can’t grow as a person without mistakes. You don’t know what perfection is unless you’ve experienced imperfection. So I don’t know the ‘perfect individual’ that society is now looking for, but it’s not me.”
After listening to Hart talk, DeGeneres reveals that she contacted the Academy in an effort to get the comedian re-hired as host. She says that the Academy told her they’d love to have Hart back and that the situation was “handled wrong.”
“There are so many haters out there,” DeGeneres says. “Whatever is going on on the internet, don’t pay attention to them, that’s a small group of people being very loud, we are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”
On the topic of internet haters, Hart describes what happened to him as a “malicious attack on his character” from people wanting to destroy his career. “It’s bigger than just the Oscars.”
Eventually, after some pushing from DeGeneres, the “Upside” actor says he will evaluate their conversation and will decide whether to step back on board as the Oscars host amid his tweet controversy.
When DeGeneres tweeted about the interview on Thursday, fans had mixed feelings to the news: some commended DeGeneres for giving Hart a platform on which to speak while others argued Hart did not deserve the chance.
One user accused the day-time talk show host and comedian of chasing ratings. “Yeah, because that’s why we do things 16 years in,” the show’s executive producer Andy Lassner scoffed.
Eventually, DeGeneres herself issued a tweet apparently referencing the backlash, writing, “However you feel about this, the only positive way through it is to talk about it.”
If DeGeneres’ goal was to quell the backlash, that didn’t quite happen, judging from this sampling of responses: