Will Kevin Hart return to Oscars? Ellen says she called academy, they want him back

"You have grown, you have apologized ... don't let those people win," Ellen DeGeneres told the actor, who stepped down from the job amid controversy.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Ellen DeGeneres believes Kevin Hart should return as host of the Oscars so much that she called the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences herself and lobbied on his behalf.

Hart told the daytime host in an interview airing on her show Friday that he is "evaluating" whether to return as host after stepping down last month following a backlash over old tweets and comedy routines criticized as being homophobic.

"I believe in forgiveness,'' DeGeneres tweeted early Friday morning. "I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4real."

DeGeneres revealed to him that she called the academy, which runs the Oscars, asking the organization about him possibly returning as host.

"So I called them, I said Kevin's on, I have no idea if he wants to come back and host, but what are your thoughts?'' she said.

"And they were like, 'Oh my God, we want him to host, we feel like maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host. Whatever we can do, we would be thrilled, and he should host the Oscars.'''

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

Interestingly, Hart himself gave an interview with Variety a few hours before he appeared on "Ellen," saying he was finished entertaining the notion of hosting the Oscars.

“Would I ever do it? No, it’s done. It’s done,” Hart said. “The moment came and it was a blessing and I was excited at the opportunity and I still am. In my mind I got the job, it was a dream job, and things came up that simply prohibited it from happening. But I don’t believe in going backwards.

“When I go on that stage, it will be because I’ve somehow figured out a way to win the Oscar,” he said. “Somehow I’ll get to the stage but it’s not going to be in this way because it just comes with such a weird cloud at this point."

Despite all that has happened, Hart holds no grudges. “There’s no ill will toward the academy,” he said.

After initially refusing to apologize following the controversy in early December, Hart, 39, tweeted hours later that he was stepping down "because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."

The decision came just three days after Hart had been selected to host the 2019 Academy Awards, a gig he called "the opportunity of a lifetime.''

One since-deleted post from 2011 read, "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.'"

Hart told audiences in his 2010 comedy special, "Seriously Funny," that "one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That's a fear. 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."

DeGeneres, who became the first person to star as an openly gay character on prime-time television earlier in her career, feels Hart has been contrite about his past mistakes and shouldn't let "the haters" get him down.

"You have grown, you have apologized, you're apologizing again right now, you've done it,'' she said. "Don't let those people win. Host the Oscars."

"I've yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian that once was,'' he said. "I moved on. I'm a grown man, I'm cultured, I'm manufactured, I'm a guy that understands now, I look at life through a different lens, and because of that, I live it a different way."

DeGeneres, who has hosted the Oscars twice, hopes Hart follows in her footsteps as the latest host.

"I think it's perfect that all this happened because there has to be a conversation about homophobia and whatever they did and whoever's trying to hurt you, it brought up you reminding people that you're a bigger person, you've already apologized, (and) you're apologizing again,'' she said.

While Hart has also received the support of other comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, the endorsement by DeGeneres received some criticism, including a response from Buzzfeed's Adam Vary, who first reported on Hart's controversial tweets.

Hart said he was attracted to the gig because so few African-American comedians have had the opportunity to host the iconic show over the years, but he was noncommittal as far as whether he would return.

"I don't want to step on that stage and make that night about me and my past when you got people that have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive an award,'' he said.