Kevin Hart had vowed Thursday that he would never host the Oscars after quitting because of backlash to old anti-gay tweets, but then apparently began changing his mind during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“In my mind, I got the job, it was a dream job, and things came up that simply prohibited it from happening. But I don’t believe in going backwards,” Hart had said on an episode of Variety’s Playback podcast recorded Thursday morning.
“When I go on that stage, it will be because I’ve somehow figured out a way to win the Oscar,” he said. “Somehow I’ll get to the stage, but it’s not going to be in this way because it just comes with such a weird cloud at this point.”
Hart was asked last year to host the 2019 Academy Awards, but then stepped down from the role after his anti-gay tweets resurfaced. “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay,’” Hart wrote in a now-deleted tweet. He also repeatedly used “fag” as a slur for years and described one man as looking like “a gay billboard for AIDS.”
While he initially refused to apologize for the comments, Hart did ultimately say sorry when he announced he was quitting.
But while Hart insisted to Variety that he’d officially moved on from the Oscars, the comedian seems to be reconsidering after Ellen DeGeneres told him in an interview recorded Thursday afternoon that she had called the Academy herself and told them she still wanted Hart to host the awards show.
“So I called them. I said, ‘Kevin’s on.’ I said, ‘I have no idea if he wants to come back and host. But what are your thoughts?’” said DeGeneres, herself a former Oscars host. “And they were like, ‘Oh my god. We want him to host. We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host.’”
A representative for the Academy Awards didn’t immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment, but the show has not yet named a replacement host for the ceremony.
"You have put a lot of things on my mind and I know where our relationship stands. So leaving here, I promise you that I am evaluating the conversation," Hart responded to DeGeneres.
Hart told the talk show host that people discovering his anti-gay tweets amounted to "a malicious attack" on him.
"To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to a 2008, that is an attack. That is a malicious attack on my character," he said. "That is an attack to end me."
DeGeneres told Hart not to listen to "haters."
"Whatever is going on in the internet, do not pay attention at them," she said. "That is a small group of people being very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you, and we want to see you host the Oscars."
DeGeneres's comments drew criticism from some fans, including many black LGBT people who said it was not her prerogative to absolve Hart.