Actor and comedian Kevin Hart said the Academy Awards had asked him to apologize for his history of homophobic comments and jokes on Instagram late Thursday, but he had declined to do so because he’d already addressed such criticism in years past.
“So, I just got a call from the Academy, and that call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old or we’re going to have to move on and find another host,’” Hart, currently on tour in Australia, said in a video posted to Instagram. “I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
The comedian was tapped as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards this week, what he had called the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” the actor said. “I’m going to be me; I’m going to stand my ground. Regardless, Academy, I’m thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. If that goes away, no harm, no foul.”
HuffPost has reached out to the Academy Awards, but it’s unclear if Hart is still booked to host the Oscars in February.
Earlier in the day, in a separate video, Hart told angry commenters to “take your negative energy” somewhere else.
“Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry,” Hart wrote on his social media account. He elaborated on those comments in a video, saying: “Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. if you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as people get older, I don’t know what to tell you.”
HuffPost has reached out to the actor’s representatives for comment.
Hart first drew fire after journalists said the 39-year-old had posted several anti-gay tweets in 2010 and 2011, including one in which he said a fellow actor looked “like a gay bill board for AIDS” and another in which he said he’d tell his son “Stop, that’s gay” if he caught him playing with a dollhouse.
He has since begun deleting some of the offending tweets, according to BuzzFeed News.
Some were quick to note that Hart’s comments Thursday didn’t include an apology or address the LGBTQ community.
“This is not good,” the comedian Billy Eichner wrote on Twitter. “A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple.”
HuffPost’s Curtis Wong notes that the Oscars had been embroiled in a similar controversy before. In 2011, the show’s producer, Brett Ratner, resigned after he was caught on video saying “rehearsing is for fags” at an audience Q&A session.
Hart concluded his post on Instagram by saying he loved “everybody” and that “what’s understood should never have to be said.”
“If you choose not to believe me then that’s on you,” he wrote. “Have a beautiful day.”