Ellen DeGeneres has found a new cause: return Kevin Hart to his Oscars hosting duties—and it looks like she may just pull it off.
The talk show host, who was recently named the most admired LGBT+ person in the US, filmed an hour-long interview with the actor and comedian in a bid to persuade America—and Hart himself—that backtracking on his decision to quit the Oscars is the right thing to do.
The interview is due to air on January 4, but snippets of the conversation were published by Variety.
“Leaving here I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation,” Hart told DeGeneres at the end of the chat.
He added: “This is a conversation I needed to have, I’m glad I had it here. I’m glad it’s as authentic and real as I could’ve hoped it would be.”
“Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
— Ellen DeGeneres
DeGeneres also shared a clip of the interview via social media.
“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in Kevin Hart,” the TV host wrote in a tweet.
Why did Kevin Hart step down from hosting the Oscars?
Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars, a gig he had described as his dream, in December, after he was given an ultimatum from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which hosts the Oscars.
Hart was told to apologise for a series of homophobic tweets posted by the comedian between 2009 and 2012 that had resurfaced on social media and were causing an uproar, or lose the gig.
Explaining his choice in an Instagram video, Hart said: “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.”
Speaking to DeGeneres, Hart lamented the headlines that were written about the controversy and the fact they failed to highlight the dates his controversial tweets and jokes were made.
He also questioned the timing of the social media backlash, which happened within a few hours of the Academy announcing their decision to pick Hart as a host.
“It wasn’t a coincidence,” he said, describing the backlash as a “malicious attack on my character” seemingly engineered “to destroy me.”
“Somebody has to take a stand against the ‘trolls,'” he added.
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Ellen DeGeneres wants Kevin Hart to host the Oscars
DeGeneres expressed sympathy for the comedian, telling him: “Yeah, but they win if you don’t host.”
She added: “Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
The TV host, who has herself hosted the Oscars ceremony twice, also revealed she personally intervened to back Hart’s corner.
She said she called the Academy to ask them to reconsider Hart’s role and they seemed willing to do so.
“We want him to host, we feel like maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong, or maybe we said the wrong thing,” she said she was told. “But we want him to host. Whatever we can do, we want him to host.”
The 91st Academy Awards are scheduled to take place on February 24. Since Hart’s withdrawal, no new host has been announced—which DeGeneres took as a sign the Academy is hoping to welcome back Hart.
Opinions on Kevin Hart hosting the Oscars remain divided
But while the live audience in DeGeneres’ show seemed unanimously supportive of Hart, the opinions of those replying to the TV host’s tweets on the subject were more divided.
“Hart’s first reaction was to ignore it and he remains angry. The people affected by his homophobia are hurt yet he remains defensive. He does not get a pass because of time elapsed, closeness to a prominent LGBT figure, or alleged comedic abilities. We can do better than this,” one person tweeted.
“I truly hope he reconsiders. I truly hope this year at the Oscars, should be considered the year of reinvention. People grow and experience, this is what it means to be a human,” another remarked.