Let the head-scratching surrounding Kevin Hart’s Oscars controversy continue. The comedian indicated that he was “done” with the 2019 Academy Awards hours before Ellen DeGeneres encouraged him to return to his vacated position as host.
“Would I ever do it? No, it’s done. It’s done,” the Night School star, 39, told Variety in an interview conducted on Thursday, January 3. “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.”
Hart, who stepped down in December after his homophobic tweets resurfaced, insisted that he would only consider returning to the venue if he took home the prized gold statue. “When I go on that stage, it will be because I’ve somehow figured out a way to win the Oscar,” he explained. “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. … There’s no ill will toward the Academy.”
The Upside actor doubled down on his defense and admitted that the Academy’s ultimatum that he apologize or be replaced left a sour taste. He ultimately said he “stepped down because [he’s] not going to allow this to tarnish an amazing night for the other actors and actresses that are going to be on stage that night. It shouldn’t be about Kevin Hart and his tweets of old. And I’ll state it again, to anybody I’ve hurt, I’m sorry.”
The controversy reignited on Friday, January 4, when DeGeneres, 60, revealed that she still wanted Hart to host the awards show. “[The trolls] can’t destroy you, because you have too much talent. No one can do that. And for them to stop your dream, from what you wanted to do, from what you have a right to do and from what you should be doing, it’s why they haven’t found another host,” she remarked on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which was filmed shortly after Hart’s Variety Q&A. “As I said to you earlier, I think it’s perfect that this happened, because there needs to be a conversation about homophobia. Whatever [was] brought up and whoever was trying to hurt you, it brought up you reminding people that you’re a bigger person, that you’ve already apologized. You’re apologizing again.”
The Finding Dory star also said she called the Academy to urge the organization to reconsider letting Hart host.
Meanwhile, the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor continued to defend himself. “I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I know that I’ve addressed it. I know that I’ve apologized,” he told DeGeneres. “I know that within my apologies I’ve taken 10 years to put my apology to work. I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature version of the comedian that once was. I’ve moved on. I’m a grown man. I’m cultured. I’m manufactured. I’m a guy that understands now. I looked at life through a different lens, and because of that, I live it a different way.”
The Academy Awards will air on ABC Sunday, February 24.