Just two days after being named host of the Academy Awards, Kevin Hart has stepped down following an outcry over past homophobic tweets by the comedian.
Capping a swift and dramatic fall from grace, Hart wrote on Twitter just after midnight on Friday that he was withdrawing as Oscars host because he didn’t want to be a distraction.
“I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” wrote Hart.
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 & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
The diminutive gagster, who stands only 160cm in his socks, is currently touring Australia.
He stepped aside about an hour after initially refusing to apologise for tweets that resurfaced after he was announced as Oscars host on Tuesday.
In a video on Instagram, Hart said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave him an ultimatum: apologise or “we’re going to have to move on and find another host”.
“I chose to pass on the apology,” Hart said. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and been shared online.
Australia I just touched down! Operation #IrresponibleTour is in effect. By popular demand I just added additional shows in Sydney and Melbourne! Get tix now. https://t.co/CnDmRGtPHK pic.twitter.com/WU4AsXBYVt
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 3, 2018
In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “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 an earlier post on Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should “stop being negative” about his earlier anti-gay remarks.
“I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” said Hart, who added, in all-caps:
“I love everybody.”
Hart’s attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 special Seriously Funny, he said “one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”
“Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will,” Hart said.
The Academy moved up 2019’s ceremony to February 24, giving producers little time to find a replacement.
Hart’s ouster is not the first time homophobic remarks have cost an Oscars compere his job.
Ahead of the 2012 ceremony, producer Brett Ratner, who had been paired with host Eddie Murphy, resigned days after using a gay slur at a film screening. Murphy quit soon after.