The 2019 Oscars are now looking for a second last-minute host to accept an offer to lead the biggest night in film next year. Kevin Hart announced late Thursday night that he would be stepping down as host of the award show following outrage over insensitive tweets that surfaced earlier in the week.
Hart, the actor and comedian who had agreed to host the Oscars after it was revealed the Academy was struggling to find a host for the event, announced he would not host after all. Hours after that initial story circulated, Hart was reportedly in talks to and then agreed to accept the gig, which had become increasingly tougher to fill in recent years.
But soon after he accepted the gig, tweets containing offensive language and homophobic jokes were shared on social media. Reports then spread online that Hart was deleting tweets that were viewed as insensitive to the LGBTQ+ community. In light of that news, Hart says, he will not host the awards. He tweeted just after midnight on the east coast explaining his decision and offering an apology to those he offended.
“I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” Hart tweeted. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Hart was seen as the Academy’s savior on Tuesday night when it was reported that he had accepted the role as host. Saying he was “blown away” by what he phrased as the “opportunity of a lifetime” to host, outrage grew later in the week when some people searched for less-than-flattering Tweets from his past revealing homophobic language. Those tweets were disappearing later in the day, drawing further attention to the matter.
The comedian’s initial response came later on Thursday in an Instagram video where Hart revealed that the Academy had issued an ultimatum to him that he delete the tweets or that he could not host.
As Variety notes, he at first did not want to apologize for the tweets.
“I just got a call from the Academy and that call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old or we’re going to have to move on and find another host.’ I’m talking about the tweets from 2009 and 2010,” the 39-year-old comedian said. “I chose to pass on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life.”
Yet hours later, Hart had tweeted that his brief time as the Oscars host was over and finally did apologize for his past words. It’s unclear if Hart’s unwillingness forced the Academy’s hand in removing him or if he had a change of heart in the hours since that video, though his tweet is phrased in a way that implies it was his decision. But earlier in the week, Hart initially dealt with criticism of his tweets upon his announcement he had accepted the role much differently.
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Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry….I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people….there is nothing that you can do to change that…NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all….with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please….What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY…..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you….Have a beautiful day
“Stop looking for reasons to be negative,” Hart wrote in the caption of a video where he lamented how people reacted to the news. Hart said that he had changed over the years since those tweets were first sent, and that he was “in love with the man that I am becoming.”
Still, as word of the tweets and that he was deleting them spread, so did the outcry from many over what he wrote as far back as 2009. Another Variety story notes some of the tweets that had drawn ire, and some that were still up as of the piece’s publication that also contained homophobic slurs.
“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,’” Hart wrote in a since-deleted tweet, that made rounds in blog write ups and tweet threads as soon as Wednesday morning.
The tweets contain incendiary and mocking language, like one pondering why actor Damien Wayans’ avatar looked like “a gay bill board for AIDS.” Another asked why producer and actor Dwayne L. Brown had photos of Hart on his phone.
“What r u some type of FAT F-G that takes pics of small black men all day?” the tweet said.
With Hart out of the picture, it’s initially unclear who will replace him as host of the 2019 Oscars. The event is scheduled to take place on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.