Ellen DeGeneres personally called the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and urged them to re-hire Kevin Hart as Oscars host, she revealed on Friday’s Ellen. Hart stepped down from the 2019 gig in December after several of his years-old, homophobic tweets resurfaced online.
“I called the Academy today because I really want you to host the Oscars,” DeGeneres told Hart in an interview. “I was so excited when I heard they asked you – I thought it was an amazing thing. I knew how important it was and that it was a dream. So I called them and said, ‘Kevin’s on. I have no idea if he wants to come back and host, but what are your thoughts?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, my God, we want him to host. We feel like maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host. Whatever we can do, we would be thrilled. And he should host the Oscars.'”
Hart first pulled out of the hosting gig two days after announcing his participation, noting on Twitter that he didn’t “want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.” He claimed in an Instagram video that the Academy called and asked him to apologize for the offensive tweets, which included calling someone a “fat faced fag” and noting that someone’s profile pic looked “like a gay billboard for AIDS.” “The reason why I passed is I’ve addressed this several times,” Hart said in the video. “I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it.”
On Ellen, DeGeneres called Hart “one of the smartest people I know, one of the funniest people I know” and encouraged the comedian to be “the bigger man” in his war against “haters.” “With you hosting the Oscars, [we’ll get to see] sophistication, class, hilarity and you growing as a person,” she said. “Whatever is going on in the Internet, don’t pay attention to them. That’s a small group of people being very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”
While Hart didn’t announce any plans to re-claim his former spot, he railed against online “trolling” as a full-scale attack on his character.
“Openly, openly, I say I’m wrong for my past words. I say it. I said it. I understand that. I know that,” he said. “My kids know when their dad messes up, I’m in front of it because I want to be an example so they know what to do. In this case, it’s tough for me because it was an attack. This wasn’t an accident; it wasn’t a coincidence that the day after I received the job, tweets somehow manifested from 2008. I’m on social media every day – I’ve got over 40,000 tweets. To go through over 40,000 tweets to go back to 2008 – that’s an attack. That’s a malicious attack on my character. That’s an attack to end me. That’s not an attack just to stop the Oscars. That’s what I want people to understand – that’s an attack to end me … It’s bigger than just the Oscars. Somebody has to take a stand against the ‘trolls.'”
“But they’re gonna win if you don’t host the Oscars,” DeGeneres interjected. “Who knows who this person is. Who cares? You can’t let them destroy you, and they can’t destroy you because you have too much talent. No one can do that. And for them to stop you from your dream – from what you wanted to do and what you have a right to do, what you should be doing – it’s why they haven’t found another host. I think they were secretly hoping you would come back. I’m praying that this happens.”
DeGeneres added that she saw a silver lining in the incident: an opportunity for a wider discussion about homophobia. “As a gay person, I am sensitive to all of that, and I talked to you about all of this and you’ve already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay, or beaten up every day,” she said. “You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
As of this writing, the Academy has yet to announce a host for the Oscars, which take place February 24th.