Prodded by Ellen DeGeneres, comic Kevin Hart says he'll reconsider his decision to step down as host of the Academy Awards.
Hart, who is currently promoting his new movie Upside, had backed away two days after being named host last month when some homophobic tweets he had made a decade ago resurfaced.
"I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," he wrote at the time, saying he didn't want to be a "distraction".
'I believe in second chances'
But DeGeneres urged him to host the show during an interview that aired on Friday (January 5, 2019) on her talk show. "You have grown," DeGeneres told him. "You have apologised. You're apologising again right now. You've done it. Don't let these people win."
She added: “I called the Academy today because I really want you to host the Oscars.”
The show was supposed to air on Monday, but DeGeneres couldn't wait to share it with her audience. "@KevinHart4real was authentic and real, and I'm in his corner," she wrote on Twitter, adding #OscarsNeedHart. "I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4real," she said in another tweet.
'An attack to end me'
The Academy has not named a replacement host for its February 24 awards show. Key parties involved in the annual Oscars show are seemingly still open to Hart returning as host, reported Variety.
But Hart also claimed he felt the campaign to have him removed as Oscars host was designed to "destroy" him. “To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008, that’s an attack,” he added. “That’s a malicious attack on my character. That’s an attack to end me.”
Hart stepped aside about an hour after refusing to apologise for the tweets. In a video on Instagram, Hart said the Academy gave him an ultimatum: apologise or "we're going to have to move on and find another host."
Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and shared online. In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: "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."
At the time of the controversy last month, he wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative".
"I'm almost 40 years old. If you don't believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don't know what to tell you," Hart said, adding in all-caps: "I love everybody."
As this new episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show aired, many people took to Twitter to announce their support:
Twitter user Rachel DiLeo complained how the conversation is "getting old". "What more do you want him to do besides apologize for something 10 YEARS AGO," she added. "He should host the Oscars end of story".
Others weren't so sure. Bryan Olson wrote that if the Academy brings Hart back as host, it might be the first year in many he skips watching the ceremony.