Kevin Hart has announced he is stepping down as host of next year’s Oscars ceremony following an outcry over perceived homophobic comments and tweets from the comedian.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” wrote Hart, who as well as his stand-up work is the star of films like Ride Along and Jumanji.
On Friday Hart posted an apology to the LGBTQ community on Twitter for his past “insensitive words” and confirmed he would not take on the gig, so as not to be a “distraction”.
“This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazingly talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
“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 and appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
Just hours earlier, Hart, who is currently in Australia, posted a video on Instagram saying he had received a call from the Academy telling him to apologize or he would be removed as host.
In the video, Hart said he would not apologize.
“I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason I chose to pass is because I’ve addressed this several times, this is not the first time this has come up, I’ve addressed this… 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 space in my life,” he said.
“Regardless, Academy, I’m thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. If it goes away no harm no foul.”
It was announced on Tuesday that Hart would host the Oscars ceremony in February 2019, which is considered one of the most prestigious but difficult jobs in show business.
“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time,” Hart wrote on his Instagram page.
Hart would have been one of a few black Oscar hosts in the event’s history, after Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Sammy Davis Jr.
However, the choice quickly prompted a backlash after a significant number of Hart’s tweets in which he used homophobic slurs were re-posted on Twitter. A video from a 2010 stand-up special in which Hart delivered an extended joke based on the fear his three-year-old son would be gay also resurfaced.