Actor and comedian Kevin Hart said early Friday he had stepped down from his role as host of the 2019 Academy Awards amid criticism over his history of homophobic comments and jokes.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” Hart wrote on Twitter. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Just an hour earlier, Hart said he had gotten a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asking him to apologize, but said he refused to do so.
“So, I just got a call from the Academy, and that call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old or we’re going to have to move on and find another host,’” Hart, currently on tour in Australia, said in a video posted to Instagram. “I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
The comedian was tapped as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards this week, what he had called the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” the actor said. “I’m going to be me; I’m going to stand my ground. Regardless, Academy, I’m thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. If that goes away, no harm, no foul.”
HuffPost has reached out to the Academy Awards.
Earlier in the day, in a separate video, Hart told angry commenters to “take your negative energy” somewhere else.
“Stop looking for reasons to be negative...Stop searching for reasons to be angry,” Hart wrote on his social media account. He elaborated on those comments in a video, saying: “Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. if you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as people get older, I don’t know what to tell you.”
HuffPost has reached out to the actor’s representatives for comment.
Hart first drew fire after journalists said the 39-year-old had posted several anti-gay tweets in 2010 and 2011, including one in which he said a fellow actor looked “like a gay bill board for AIDS” and another in which he said he’d tell his son “Stop, that’s gay” if he caught him playing with a dollhouse.
He has since begun deleting some of the offending tweets, according to BuzzFeed News.
Some were quick to note that Hart’s comments Thursday didn’t include an apology or address the LGBTQ community.
“This is not good,” the comedian Billy Eichner wrote on Twitter. “A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple.”
HuffPost’s Curtis Wong notes that the Oscars had been embroiled in a similar controversy before. In 2011, the show’s producer, Brett Ratner, resigned after he was caught on video saying “rehearsing is for fags” at an audience Q&A session.
Hart concluded his post on Instagram by saying he loved “everybody” and that “what’s understood should never have to be said.”
“If you choose not to believe me then that’s on you,” he wrote. “Have a beautiful day.”