According to Ellen DeGeneres, the Academy would be happy to have Kevin Hart host the 2019 Oscars even after he quit last month following outrage over the resurfacing of homophobic old tweets. And in a new interview with DeGeneres that will air Friday, Hart suggested he might reclaim the gig.
During the interview, video of which “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” made available online Thursday night, Ellen told Hart she’d personally called the Academy to urge the organization to rehire him. And, she said, she was told the Academy would be “thrilled” and that “we want him to host.”
To that, Hart told DeGeneres, “Leaving here, I promise you, I’m evaluating this conversation. This is a conversation I needed to have, I’m glad that I had it here, and I’m glad that it was as authentic and real as I could have hoped that it would be. So let me assess, just to sit in this space and really think, and you and I will talk before anything else.”
Hart was announced as host of the Academy Awards on Dec. 4, but soon faced an uproar over old tweets in which he made homophobic jokes and comments. Hart, who most recently addressed the tweets in 2015, at first refused an ultimatum from the Academy to apologize or quit. But by the end of the day on Dec. 6 he apologized and quit.
Earlier in the interview with DeGeneres, Hart talked about his thinking during the uproar, saying in part that he chose at first to ignore it because “if you feed into it, then you add more fuel to the fire… Another day goes by and the fuel has grown — this thing is angry.”
He said also felt upset because he’d addressed the issue before and didn’t understand why that wasn’t being noted. “The headlines … said, ‘Kevin Hart refuses to apologize for homophobic tweets.’ They left out ‘again.'”
Hart went on to noted times he’s previously addressed and apologized for the comments during promotion for 2015’s “Get Hard,” and earlier in 2012. “I had to address it and apologize, say I understand those words, how they hurt,” he said. “I understand why people would be upset, which is why I made the choice to not use them anymore.”
“I don’t joke like that anymore,” Hart continued, “because that was wrong. I was a guy that was just looking for last and I was stupid.”
The interview marks Hart’s first comments on the matter since quitting. The Academy has yet to announce a replacement host.
On Twitter, reaction was mixed, with many praising the interview, and others arguing with “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” executive producer Andy Lassner over the news.
“I don’t want to live in a world where forgiveness & personal growth aren’t possible. I grew up using gay slurs with my friends,” Lassner said to one person. “I thought it was funny & harmless. I learned and evolved. I changed. Life is hard. We make terrible mistakes. And then we try and be better.”
Watch the clip above.