Ellen DeGeneres is going out of her way to ensure that Kevin Hart hosts the 2019 Academy Awards. As promised online, Hart makes a dramatic appearance on Friday’s episode of DeGeneres’ show, during which she urges him to reconsider his decision to step down.
In a series of clips released via EllenTube, the host tells Hart that she’s been in contact with the Academy, whose members still want him up on that stage. “We want him to host,” she says on the Academy’s behalf. “We feel like maybe he misunderstood, or is was handled wrong, or maybe we said the wrong thing. … The Academy is saying, ‘What can we do to make this happen?'” (The Oscars, currently host-less, are set to air Sunday, Feb. 24 on ABC.)
To be fair, DeGeneres doesn’t completely overlook what put Hart in this situation in the first place. The interview acknowledges the homophobic tweets from 2008 that caused people to question whether he should get to host. However, she relegates those people to the “haters” category, telling Hart, “That’s a small group of people being very loud. We’re a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”
When asked about the people who called for him to step down, Hart gets defensive, accusing “trolls” of directly attacking him by resurfacing his decade-old tweets. “That’s an attack on my character,” he explains. “That’s an attack to end me. It’s bigger than just the Oscars. … It wasn’t a coincidence that the day after I received the job, tweets manifested from 2008.”
“I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body,” Hart says, explaining that he has already apologized for his anti-LGBT material on several occasions, specifically citing uncomfortable interviews during the junket for his 2015 Will Ferrell comedy Get Hard. “I’ve yet to go back to the immature version of the comedian I once was. … That was a guy just looking for laughs, and that was wrong.”
He adds, “Once again, I’m sorry if these words hurt. I’m sorry. Either my apology is accepted, or it isn’t. You can’t grow as a person unless you experience mistakes.”
DeGeneres ends the hourlong sit-down by reiterating her desire for Hart to host the Oscars, to which he says, “I promise you, I’m evaluating the conversation. Let me assess. You and I will talk before anything else. That’s my promise.”
Hit PLAY on three clips from DeGeneres’ interview below, then weigh in via our poll: Should Hart host the Oscars?