“I called the academy today because I really want you to host the Oscars,” DeGeneres told Hart. “I was so excited when I heard that they asked you. I thought it was an amazing thing. I knew how important it was and how it was a dream.”
“So I called them. I said ‘Kevin’s on.’ I said, ‘I have no idea if he wants to come back and host. But what are your thoughts?’ And they were like, ‘Oh my god. We want him to host. We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing but we want him to host.’”
She added: “The academy is saying, ‘What can we do to make this happen?’”
It’s unclear who DeGeneres spoke to. The academy did not respond to a request for comment and has not announced a replacement host for Hart.
In the clips released by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Hart said he was re-evaluating whether or not to host (it’s unclear if the decision is up to him), but said that he took responsibility for his past comments, which include a now deleted tweet from 2011 in which he said, “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,’” and a 2009 post on Twitter in which he used a homophobic slur. There was also Hart’s 2010 comedy special, “Seriously Funny”: As part of an extended riff, he said, “Me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
But Hart, who was also promoting his new movie “The Upside,” also said the campaign to have him ousted as Oscars host was meant to “destroy” him.
“On my side, openly, I say I’m wrong for my past words,” Hart told DeGeneres. “I say it. I said it.”
“I understand that,” he continued. “I know that. My kids know when their dad messes up, I’m in front of it because I want to be an example so they know what to do. In this case, it’s tough for me because it was an attack. This wasn’t an accident. This wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t a coincidence that the day after I received the job that tweets just somehow manifested from 2008.”
“To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008, that’s an attack,” he added, “that’s a malicious attack on my character. That’s an attack to end me.”
Hart stepped down as Oscars host two days after it was announced that he got the job. Hosting was one of his top career goals, he told DeGeneres, because “there hasn’t been a lot of African-American comedians that have been able to do it.” As old comments resurfaced, Hart was initially defiant, declining to apologize.
“If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you,” Hart said in an Instagram video. “If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain the past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man. I’m in a great place. A great mature place where all I do is spread positivity.”
But six hours later, he stepped down.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” the 39-year-old said on Twitter. “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 L.G.B.T.Q. community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Hart said on “Ellen” that he initially didn’t address the criticism because “when you feed into that stuff, you only add more fuel to the fire.”
“When it happened, my first thought is, ‘I’m going to ignore it,’” he said, adding, “I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body.”
“I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian that once was,” he said. “I’ve moved on. I’m a grown man.”
Hart hasn’t addressed his past comments often, but he did so in the case of the joke from his 2010 special about his son being gay. Hart told Rolling Stone in 2015, “I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.”
DeGeneres posted clips from the interview on Twitter, with this accompanying text: “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @kevinhart4real.” In a follow-up tweet, she said, “In this conversation, @kevinhart4real was authentic and real, and I’m in his corner. #OscarsNeedHart.”
In the interview, DeGeneres, who is one of the most prominent gay celebrities working today and has also hosted the Academy Awards, played down the criticism that emerged over Hart hosting the ceremony. The interview was originally going to air on Monday, but DeGeneres announced that it would instead be broadcast on Friday.
“Whatever is going on in the internet, don’t pay attention to them,” she said. “That’s a small group of people being very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”
DeGeneres’s embrace of Hart was met with criticism on social media. Adam B. Vary, a senior film reporter for Buzzfeed, said, “It’s depressing that Ellen’s enthusiasm for Hart hosting the Oscars — and he would’ve been a good host! — led her to contribute to a narrative that Hart is the victim of ‘haters’ & ‘trolls’ out to ‘destroy’ him.”
DeRay Mckesson, the Black Lives Matter activist, wrote on Twitter: “I expected Ellen to actually ask Kevin Hart some sort of challenging question. Anything, really. But instead, it was just one long monologue from Kevin interspersed with Ellen’s approval. That interview made me miss the previous talk show hosts that asked tough questions.”