Kevin Hart abruptly backed out of hosting the 2019 Oscars after the actor came under fire for past tweets seen as homophobic, saying he did not want to controversy to overshadow the show.
Hart made the announcement on Twitter late on Thursday, issuing an apology to the LGBTQ community and saying he did not want to be a distraction.
“This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” Hart wrote. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Hart had been announced as the host earlier this week, just after a report surfaced that producers were having a difficult time finding a replacement for Jimmy Kimmel after he left hosting duties.
The decision to leave his spot as host came not after Kevin Hart initially appeared to balk at apologizing. In an Instagram video, Hart explained that a representative from the Academy Awards told him that he needed to apologize or else they would find a new host for the show. The actor and comedian said he did not believe he needed to apologize given that he had already addressed the remarks and admitted that he was in the wrong.
“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,” Hart said. “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.”
In the past tweets, Hart insultingly referred to a number of people as gay and used a derogatory term for homosexuals. He also joked that if his son wanted to play with his daughter’s doll house, he would break it over the boy’s head and tell him “stop that’s gay.” The tweets did not generate much attention at the time, coming in the earlier days of Twitter and before Hart became a leading man in Hollywood.
The statement had drawn a sharp backlash among many who believed that Hart should apologize for the insensitive tweets, and there was a movement calling on the Academy to find a new host for next year’s show.
It was not yet clear who might host the 2019 Oscars after the departure of Kevin Hart.
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