After a user on Twitter suggested that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reach out to Dwayne Johnson to host the Oscars, the superstar actor revealed that he had, in fact, already been approached -- but that he had to decline due to scheduling conflicts.
It is an odd statement only because their second choice, comedian Kevin Hart, is a friend and collaborator of Johnson's...and the scheduling conflict Johnson cites is the upcoming, third Jumanji film -- in which Hart also stars.
Hart had originally been hired to host the Academy Awards ceremony, but stepped down amid controversy when a number of old comments and social media posts drew accusations of homophobia. When the Academy asked Hart to apologize publicly for the comments or step down, he opted to step down, saying that he had already apologized for them at earlier times. He issued a separate statement expressing empathy for anyone hurt by his earlier comments, and suggested that he was dropping out largely because he did not want the controversy to distract from the show.
Since then, there have been a few rumored hosts, but a narrative going through the entertainment press has been that the Academy is having a difficult time attracting A-list talent to emcee the award show. Almost every recent host has come up short in the eyes of the social media public and critics, presumably leaving a lot of candidates to feel like there is very limited upside to the gig.
Ah mahalo dude, I was their first choice to host this year, and my goal was to make it the most fun and entertaining Oscars ever. We all tried hard, but couldn’t make it work since I’m shooting Jumanji. Academy and I were super bummed but maybe one day down the road 🥃 //t.co/eiiMuBNOzb— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 6, 2019
Johnson, a face of the Fast & Furious franchise as well as the leading man in a seemingly-endless run of hit movies. Most recently he has launched the NBC competition series The Titan Games -- so it is safe to assume he is pretty busy.
Hart is not quite as busy or prolific, but is one of the most sought-after comic leads in Hollywood, and appears opposite Bryan Cranston in the controversial-but-buzzy The Upside, a serious drama that may open some new doors for the actor. If that is the case, it may be those more "serious" aspirations that led him to bear down and accept the scheduling conflicts that stopped Johnson from accepting the Academy gig.
The Academy Awards will go forward without a host this year, marking the first time the show has gone without an emcee since 1989. Of course, the primary job of the host is to keep the studio audience engaged and make jokes; the wide variety of presenters, including Jennifer Lopez, Tina Fey, and Daniel Craig, will still be in attendance, and will presumably simply be introduced by a PA voiceover.
The 91st Academy Awards will be presented on February 24 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will air live on ABC.