After taping his appearance scheduled for Monday on "Ellen," the host took to Twitter to say that she'd made the decision to air it as soon as possible, so their hour-long chat got bumped up to Friday instead.
It was an unfiltered and uncensored conversation, and one that felt very timely and important to have as outrage culture continues to dominate our society. Kevin grew very passionate in explaining why he ultimately made the decision to back out of hosting the Oscars amid a growing tirade of personal attacks.
I had an incredible and honest conversation with @KevinHart4real about hosting the #Oscars. It was supposed to air on Monday. I don't want you to have to wait, so now it's gonna air tomorrow.
But then Ellen showed equal passion in explaining why he should host the Oscars, and the efforts she'd already made that make it a very real possibility he could still return as host for the February 24 event.
It all went wrong immediately for Kevin Hart, the morning after he was announced as the 2019 Oscars host, in fact. Suddenly, decade-old homophobic tweets had been resurfaced and social media outcry was that he should quit immediately. But Kevin didn't apologize, at first.
When it happened, my first thought was I'm gonna ignore it. I'm gonna ignore it because it's ten years old. This is stuff I've addressed. I've talked about this. This isn't new. I've addressed it. I've apologized for it. I'm not gonna pay it any mind, because when you feed into that stuff, you only add more fuel to the fire.
Unfortunately, this fire didn't need any more fuel. It was fast-burning and it didn't seem to matter that he'd already addressed and apologized for these tweets in the intervening decade.
Nobody's finding the apologies. Nobody's finding the footage from where I had to address it. I had to address it when I did 'Get Hard' promo with Will Ferrell, because of my joke that I had about my son. I had to address those tweets in 2012 in a very, very heavy junket where I was asked questions about homophobia based on those tweets. And I had to address it and apologize and say I understand what those words do and how they hurt. I understand why people would be upset, which is why I made the choice to not use them anymore. I don't joke like that anymore because that was wrong. That was a guy that was just looking for laughs and that was stupid.
Before he knew it, Kevin was seemingly facing an ultimatum from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences: apologize or be replaced as host. But as he saw it, he had no choice at all. Even if he stayed on as host -- something he's dreamed about his whole career -- it tarnishes the evening.
The Oscars is no longer about Kevin Hart stepping up onto that stage and taking an intense night where people are so uptight and making it loose and fun -- that's my reason for doing it, I'm going to bring fun to the Oscars ... Now all of a sudden it's a little darker because the conversation isn't about me hosting the Oscars, the conversation is about Kevin Hart's tweets from ten years ago and homophobia. I don't want to step on that stage and make that night about me and my past when you've got people who have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive an award.
The larger issue, though, that Hart believes needs to be addressed is this outrage culture that we live in that he doesn't see believing in forgiveness or personal growth. If you've made one mistake in your life, you're done. Forever. Or you have to be prepared to keep apologizing for the same things over and over again, stuck in that loop of never forgiven, never forgotten.
I'm sorry, but either my apology is accepted or it isn't. Either I can move forward or I can't. You can't grow as a person without mistakes. You don't know what perfection is unless you've experienced imperfection. So I don't know the perfect individual that society is now looking for, it's not me. ... I have made several mistakes and I embrace them all because I'm a better man today because of them.
After allowing him a full segment to say his piece, with virtually no interruption whatsoever, Ellen dropped what appeared to be a bit of a bombshell on Kevin when she told him that she'd spoken to the Academy herself. As a former host, she so badly wanted Kevin to helm this year's show.
What we're going to get to see on stage with you hosting the Oscars is sophistication, class, hilarity and you growing as a person. Because most people would say, I'm walking away, I'm not coming back, because I'm gonna go back and forth. But for you to be the bigger man, for you to say, I understand, and to not pay attention -- there are so many haters out there, whatever's going on on the internet, don't pay attention to them.
The reason that Kevin was so willing to step back entirely is because he saw this as so much more than an attack against the idea of him hosting the Oscars.
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. Now, I don't know who follows me and who doesn't, I'm on social media every day. I've got over 40,000 tweets. To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008, that's an attack. That's a malicious attack on my character. That's an attack to end me. That's not just an attack to stop the Oscars. That's what I want people to understand. That's an attack to end me.
As he sees it, the goal was to destroy his career utterly and entirely, much as trolls similarly attacked "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn for decade-old tweets and got him fired from the third installment of that franchise. Gunn still hasn't returned to Twitter after those attacks, nor has Disney backed down on their stance.
"Somebody has to take a stand against the trolls," Kevin told Ellen in defense of his decision to step down.
"Right, but they're going to win if you don't host the Oscars," she quickly countered.
It was probably the best response she could have given, because that clearly was at least one of the goals of the attack in the first place. And it worked. At least so far.
For the next segment, Ellen cheekily introduced Kevin as "this year's Oscar host," and he admitted she'd given him a lot to think about.
You have said a lot of amazing things. You have put a lot of things on my mind and I know where our relationship stands. So, leaving here I'm promising you I'm evaluating this conversation. This is a conversation I needed to have. I'm glad that I had it here. ... Let me assess, just to sit in the space and really think. You and I will talk before anything else.
So there you have it. The Oscars has yet to find a replacement host, and Ellen thinks that could be because they never wanted Kevin to step down in the first place. According to the daytime host, the Academy told her they felt awful about how it had all gone down, suggesting there may have been a breakdown in communication somewhere. They want Kevin to host.
But does he want to. After this episode, he'll have no choice but to give a definitive answer one way or the other. And it looks like the Academy might just be waiting for that answer more than the rest of us.