The 2019 Academy Awards has just lost its host. Just two days after Kevin Hart was announced to host the February 24 ceremony, the comedian has made the decision to pull out from the upcoming ceremony amid backlash over his old homophobic jokes.
The comedian announced his exit on Twitter on Thursday, December 6. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” he wrote, “this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.”
He also apologized to those who were hurt by his offensive jokes, saying, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.” He added, “I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
Hart’s decision to remove himself from the event comes less than an hour after he said in an Instagram video that the Academy gave him an ultimatum to apologize, otherwise he would be removed as the host of the upcoming Oscars. The “Ride Along” star said he “chose to pass on the apology.” He shared, “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 chose to pass. I passed 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,” he defiantly explained. “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.”
“I’m thankful and I’m appreciative of the opportunity [to host],” he said to the Academy at the end of the video. “If it goes away, no harm, no foul.”
In another video posted on earlier Thursday, Hart insisted he’s a changed man, years after he made those homophobic jokes. “Guys. I’m almost 40 years old, if you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you,” he said, seemingly frustrated at the public outcry. “If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past then…I’m the wrong guy man.”
The Academy has not released a statement regarding Hart’s exit nor announcing his replacement.