Only days after comedian and actor Kevin Hart confirmed he had accepted the role of host of the 2019 Academy Awards, he is now stepping down.
The news came after several old homophobic and transphobic tweets from Hart surfaced and he was soon caught deleting them.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars….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 wrote on Twitter Thursday night. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
In a follow-up tweet, 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.”
Earlier in the day the controversy of the tweets reached new heights when Hart refused to offer an apology after being given an ultimatum by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “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 to find another host,’ talking about the tweets from 2009, 2010,” Hart said in a video posted to Instagram. “I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason why I’ve passed is that I’ve addressed it several times.”
He also criticized “internet trolls” for digging up the old tweets, and added, ” “The same energy that went into finding those old tweets is the same energy that could have been put into finding the response to the questions that have been asked years after years.”
Hart concluded by saying, “Regardless, the Academy, I’m thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. If it goes away, no harm, no foul.”
In an earlier video that same day, he also addressed the situation saying, “My team calls me, ‘Oh my God, Kevin, the world is upset about tweets you did years ago. Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe people change, grow as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify their past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man. I’m in a great place, a great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity.”