Kevin Hart is currently in the news for his sit-down with Ellen DeGeneres in which she urged him to reconsider hosting the Oscars. Following their conversation, in which DeGeneres claimed she personally called the Academy and heard they want Hart back as host, the comedian said he would take some time to “evaluate” the situation and move forward accordingly.
Before Hart was interviewed by DeGeneres, however, he joined Variety’s Kristopher Tapley on the “Playback” podcast and was more adamant about not returning as hot.
“Would I ever do it? No, it’s done. It’s done,” Hart said. “The moment came and it was a blessing and I was excited at the opportunity and I still am. In my mind I got the job, it was a dream job, and things came up that simply prohibited it from happening. But I don’t believe in going backwards. … When I go on that stage, it will be because I’ve somehow figured out a way to win the Oscar. Somehow I’ll get to the stage but it’s not going to be in this way because it just comes with such a weird cloud at this point.”
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Hart was hired as host of the 91st Academy Awards in December, but the announcement was met with backlash a day later as controversial jokes from his past featuring LGBTQ slurs began resurfacing on social media. Hart eventually stepped down from hosting, saying he did not want the controversy surrounding him to overshadow the talent that should be honored during the Oscars. Speaking to Variety, Hart was critical of the “trolls” that dug into his past and have refused to accept he has changed.
“You’re living in times where words and points of view can be misconstrued because of how strong the internet is,” Hart said. “The manipulation of headlines is what was amazing when this whole thing hit. It was, ‘Kevin Hart steps down because he refuses to apologize for homophobic tweets.’ This was what was said and it was blasted all over the internet, and the word ‘again’ somehow got lost, which was a major word. I’ve addressed this several times.”
Tapley pressured Hart to answer when exactly he apologized for his homophobic tweets in the past, but Hart did not so easily give in to his request. Tapley mentioned he has gone looking for any signs of an actual apology Hart might have made in the past but has not found one.
“It’s easy not to find the good,” Hart said. “When me and Will Ferrell did ‘Get Hard,’ and we did the promo tour, that’s when Kevin Hart was hit with so much stuff. … I remember the span in 2011 when this came up, and I had to say to a person in the LGBTQ community, ‘Hey, I understand. And you know what? I’m wrong. But I can’t do nothing about that joke because it was done. I can’t do nothing about the tweets because they’re out there. I was wrong. It’ll never happen again and I’m sorry. Please accept my apology.’ So when people say, ‘Yo, I can’t find it,’ well, go ask the individual who dug up the stuff from 2009 to go do the same. I can’t put that energy into something that’s in my past. I can’t put that energy into negativity.”
Hart was the subject of homophobia accusations in 2011 after his comedy special “Seriously Funny” included jokes about him being afraid about his son growing up and being gay. When asked about the joke by Rolling Stone in 2015, Hart did not apologize but rather attempted to explain the rationale behind the joke, saying, “The funny thing within that joke is it’s me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it’s about me.”
Hart said he would not make the same joke today, but he did not offer an apology.
As for the “Get Hard” press tour (which was actually released in 2015) that Hart mentioned, a video of Hart being asked about the movie’s homophobic jokes began recirculating in the wake of the comedian’s “Ellen” interview. In the clip, HitFix host Louis Virtel directly asks Hart about the film’s homophobic jokes, to which Hart does not apologize for them but defends them by saying, “I think funny is funny.”
Hart did apologize for the jokes when announcing he was stepping down from Oscars host on December 7, writing on Twitter, “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.” The apology came after Hart reacted to the backlash by posting December 6 an Instagram video in which he did not apologize but said he had grown and would not look back at the negative.
The Academy has not broken its silence on what it plans to do in terms of the host for the 91st Academy Awards. At this point, DeGeneres says the Academy is interested in having Hart return and Hart is going to spend some time thinking about returning or not. The Oscars take place Sunday, February 24.