Kevin Hart steps aside just about an hour after refusing to apologise for tweets that resurfaced after he was announced as Oscars host.
Just two days after being named host of the Academy Awards, Kevin Hart stepped down following an outcry over past "homophobic" tweets by the comedian.
Capping a swift and dramatic fallout, Hart wrote on Twitter just after midnight Friday that he was withdrawing as Oscars host because he didn't want to be a distraction.
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
Hart stepped aside just about an hour after 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."
The film academy didn't respond to messages Thursday evening.
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.
"Stop being negative"
In an earlier post Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should "stop being negative" about his earlier 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.
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.
Kevin Hart dethroned Jerry Seinfeld as the highest paid comedian in 2016, according to a Forbes list. He is the sixth highest paid comedian of all time.
Hart, who also starred in the 2017 film "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle", would have followed talk show host Jimmy Kimmel who hosted the Oscars in 2018 and 2017.
Hart, writing on his Instagram page this week, called the gig "the opportunity of a lifetime."
"I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars," he said.
The Academy had responded on Twitter: "Welcome to the family."
Hosting the Oscars is one of the most prestigious and difficult jobs in show business, navigating the expectations of the A-list audience in the theater and millions of people watching on television, with a combination of topical and insider jokes.
Hart, who is African-American, would have been one of just a handful of black Oscar hosts over the past 90 years, including Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Sammy Davis Jr.
Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 22, with the 2019 televised ceremony taking place in Hollywood on Feb. 24.