Kevin Hart has officially stepped down as the host of the upcoming Academy Awards after facing controversy over recently resurfaced tweets from nearly a decade ago, containing homophobic remarks and offensive slurs.
Hart took to Twitter Thursday night to announce his decision, while extending an apology to the LGBTQ community over his comments.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” Hart wrote. “This is 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.”
“I’m sorry that I hurt people,” he continued in a following tweet. “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.”
The post comes less than two hours after the comic defiantly said he would not apologize in a video he shared to Instagram, claiming that he’d “addressed this several times” over the years and didn’t feel he needed to do so again.
Hours after Hart confirmed that he’d been tapped to host the 91st Academy Awards on Tuesday evening, a number of offensive remarks tweeted by Hart between 2009 and 2011 — many of which include anti-gay slurs and homophobic insults — began circulating online, and some of those offended by his tweets started the movement calling for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind their hosting offer.
The 39-year-old actor first broke his silence on the controversy Thursday afternoon in a video explaining that he’s a different person now than he was, and adding that he’s “in a great place [in his life]. A great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity.”
However, after his first attempt at addressing the scandal failed to satisfy many who were upset by his past remarks, Hart claims the Academy reached out and presented him with an ultimatum.
“So I just got a call from the Academy, and that call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old. Or we’re gonna have to move and find another host.’ Talking about the tweets from 2009, 2010,” Hart said in a new video posted Thursday evening. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology.”
“This is not the first time this has come up, I’ve addressed it, I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’ve done it!” a seemingly exasperated Hart said. “I’m not gonna continue to go back and tap into the days of old, when I’ve moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”
The comic also continued to place blame and direct his ire at those who resurfaced his tweets in the first place, insinuating that they did so out of malicious spite or in an effort to gain temporary fame.
“The same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy you put into finding [my] response to the questions that have been asked years after years after years,” Hart said. “We feed the internet trolls and we reward them. I’m not gonna do it, man. I’m gonna be me. I’m gonna stand my ground.”
Ultimately, Hart said that even hosting the Oscars wasn’t enough to get him to back down on his stance, but seemed conciliatory in his final remarks directed toward the academy.
“I’m thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. But if it goes away, no harm, no foul,” Hart concluded.
The defiant video comes four hours after Hart first broke his silence on the mounting outrage.
The controversial tweets in question have painted Hart’s past opinions of the LGBT community in a starkly negative light, despite his assertions that he has matured.
One of the 2011 tweets that garnered plenty of outrage reads, “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 another of the tweets in question, Hart jokes that someone’s Twitter profile pic looks “like a gay billboard for AIDS.”
Guardian reporter Benjamin Lee was one of the first journalists to call out Hart’s past remarks, sharing a collection of screenshots of the offending tweets, writing, “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets?”
ET has reached out to the Academy for comment on Hart’s role as Oscars host as it now stands.
Following Hart’s announcement on Tuesday that he would be hosting the Oscars, watch the video below for a look back at when the comic first mentioned to ET how much he’d love the gig.