The actor and comedian Kevin Hart announced Thursday that he's dropping out of his scheduled hosting gig at the Oscars rather than issue a formal apology for a series of homophobic, years-old tweets. But he also quietly deleted quite a few of them as the firestorm grew this week.
On Tuesday, Hart was announced as the host for the 91st Oscars ceremony — which has been plagued by controversy in recent years — on February 24. By Thursday, he was out.
“So 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,’ talking about the tweets from 2009, 2010,” Hart said in a video he posted to Instagram on Thursday night, in which he appeared to be referencing tweets in which he used homophobic slurs. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology. The reason I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
Hart has since deleted several of the tweets, and he wrote on Twitter after the Instagram confession that he’s sorry for hurting anyone and that he’s “evolving.” He then said, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past” — which seemed to be essentially what the Academy was asking him to do in the first place.
Hart, a 39-year-old father of three, rose to megastardom despite the jokes, which he used for years. In 2011, for example, he wrote on Twitter that if his son played with a doll house, he’d “break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’ “ Hart made a similar comment about wanting his son to be heterosexual in a stand-up special in 2010, and this week the Guardian resurfaced Hart’s response to the joke during a Rolling Stone interview in 2015, where Hart said he “wouldn’t tell the joke today.” The interviewer, Jonah Weiner, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that Hart didn’t want to apologize then, either.
"I'd never apologize for what was never intended to be disprespectful — I'd never allow the public to win for something I know wasn't malicious," he said.
Hart also once tweeted that actor and director Damien Dante Wayans’ “profile pic” looked “like a gay billboard for AIDS….Booom, I’m on fire tonight.” Thursday night, Wayans wrote on Twitter that “we all need to stop being so sensitive nowadays,” although it’s not clear whether that’s related to outrage surrounding Hart’s comments.
Cover image: LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 739 -- Pictured: Actor Kevin Hart during an interview with host Seth Meyers on September 26, 2018 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)