The job of Oscars host has been vacant since Kevin Hart stepped down almost a month ago, after his years-old anti-gay tweets resurfaced. Due to the efforts of Ellen DeGeneres, herself a former Academy Awards emcee, Hart’s replacement as Oscars host may very well be … Hart himself.
During an interview with Hart on her talk show today, in which the duo discussed last month’s controversy that led to his Oscar exit, DeGeneres revealed that she reached out to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to vouch for Hart and lobby for his return as host.
Considering that Hart had chosen to step down as Oscar host rather than apologize for his past tweets, his interview with DeGeneres could open the door for his return to the role.
Among those tweets, Hart wrote in 2011, “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.’” In 2010, he tweeted that someone’s pro-life picture seemed “like a gay bill board for AIDS.”
Hart, who has a substantial presence on social media, tweeted amid the blowback for those tweets that he was stepping down as host because he didn’t want to be a distraction to the awards ceremony. It was the same story he told while appearing on DeGeneres’ daytime talk show, according to previews DeGeneres posted online ahead of the episode’s broadcast.
The episode was scheduled to air Monday, but the team pushed up the air date, DeGeneres tweeted, adding later, “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in [Kevin Hart].”
During his interview, Hart told DeGeneres, “My first thought is ‘I’m going to ignore it. I’m going to ignore it because it’s 10-years-old. This is stuff I’ve addressed, I’ve talked about this. This isn’t new. I’ve addressed it; I’ve apologized for it. I’m not going to pay it any mind. Because when you feed into that stuff, you only add more fuel to the fire.”
Hart went on to say that he didn’t feel the need to address the tweets last month because he had already apologized and had grown as a comedian since those tweets.
“There are so many haters out there,” DeGeneres said. “Whatever’s going on on the internet, don’t pay attention to them. That’s a small group of people being very, very loud.”
She also said she called the Academy to try and get his job back.
“They were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host. We feel like maybe that he misunderstood, or it was handled wrong, or maybe we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host. Whatever we could do we would be thrilled,’” DeGeneres said.
The Academy, which has been silent on this topic ever since Hart’s exit last month, hadn’t commented as of press time for this story.
The ordeal represented a giant misstep for the comedian, who is keenly aware of the value in working with brands and partnerships, including with brand partners such as Tommy John, Lyft and Old Spice.
“I have the talent to make other people feel very comfortable in any environment that I’m in,” he explained to Adweek in September. “I’m not threatening, and that’s how I’m able to put myself in front of all audiences, all ages. It doesn’t matter your race, your size, ethnicity, age. I’m comfortable in all of those environments because of the person that I am, which allows me to build my brand even more. That’s the talent of being a likable personality.”
DeGeneres has also excelled at building partnerships around the feel-good stories she and her team make a point of highlighting on the daytime show.
But that doesn’t mean, as DeGeneres said in an interview for an Adweek cover story last October, that she’s afraid to tackle controversial topics.
“I hope people understand it’s not even a political thing. It’s just about what kind of character the person has. I demand if somebody is stepping over the line [for them to be] a decent, honest human being,” she said at the time.
Her stance on Hart’s mishap didn’t sit well online, with several people criticizing DeGeneres for what they saw as supporting someone who had not sufficiently apologized for his actions.
Whether or not Hart’s interview with DeGeneres was enough to convince the Academy to welcome him back to the fold, time is running out for them to find a host, whether that’s Hart or someone else. The 91st Academy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 24 on ABC.