Comedian and actor Kevin Hart has stepped down as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reportedly told him that he needed to apologize for years-old tweets in which he made derogatory remarks about the LGBTQ+ community.
Hart, who earlier today expressed that he did not feel a need to apologize because he had already done so several times in the past, nevertheless issued a final apology -- along with his decision to remove himself from the ceremony.
"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscars," Hart tweeted. "This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."
"I'm sorry that I hurt people," Hart continued. "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."
Hart was tapped the host the Oscars earlier this week, amid reports that the job had become increasingly difficult to fill. Any name big enough to get the job, it seems, was not thrilled at the prospect of joining the long list of hosts considered to have bombed. Hart did not seem to have any such concerns, but almost immediately after he was announced as the emcee, a long history both onstage and on social media of making derogatory remarks about the LGBT community became a point of contention.
“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.’ I’m talking about the tweets from 2009 and 2010,” Hart said in an Instagram video. “I chose to pass on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life.”
The defiant and dismissive tone only worsened his problems with fans, who lashed out at the non-apology.
Hart is not the first big name to take a hit from social media this year. Earlier in 2018, the hugely successful Roseanne revival was cancelled after series star Roseanne Barr made racist remarks on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, years-old tweets from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn lost him the job on Guardians 3 after political opponents launched a campaign to pressure Disney, using Roseanne's firing as a precedent. Disney also owns ABC, the network on which this years Oscars will air.
Hart, 39, got his first big break after being cast in the Judd Apatow-produced television show Undeclared before heading to the silver in romps like Scary Movie 3 and Soul Plane. The Philadelphia native found mainstream success in the early 2010s and of late his had continued success starring opposite of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in a number of projects.
Earlier this year, Fox ordered an animated television show based on Hart's life growing up in Pennsylvania.
The 91st Academy Awards will be held February 24th, 2019 beginning at 8:00 pm Eastern and will be broadcast on ABC.