Hart, who stepped down as Oscars host after the resurfacing of past homophobic tweets, taped an interview with DeGeneres on Thursday that was originally due to air on Monday, but the producers of Ellen deemed it newsworthy enough to shift it to Friday, with clips released on Thursday night.
In the clips, Hart says he is “evaluating” reprising his role as the 2019 Oscars host after DeGeneres called the Academy to vouch for him. “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?’ And they were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host! We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong. 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.'”
DeGeneres went on to defend Hart against what he said he felt was a malicious social media campaign to derail his career and urged him to rethink his decision on stepping down as Oscars host. “As a gay person, I am sensitive to all of that. You’ve already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay or beaten up every day,” said DeGeneres.
She added: “You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let those people win — host the Oscars.”
The interview clips proved divisive on Twitter, with some feeling that DeGeneres was giving Hart a pass for his homophobic comments.
DeGeneres continued to stand by the interview, writing on Twitter, “In this conversation, @KevinHart4real was authentic and real, and I’m in his corner.” She also wrote that she believes in second chances.
She seemingly responded to the backlash in a follow-up tweet on Friday morning. “However you feel about this, the only positive way through it is to talk about it,” she wrote. “Thank you for being here, @kevinhart4real.”
See some of the backlash to Kevin Hart’s interview on Ellen, below.
I feel like if you’re not homophobic anymore, you shouldn’t mind apologizing for your past homophobia again and again and again. I don’t want to hear a hostile retelling of how we didn’t hear your meager apology the first time.
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) January 4, 2019
Ellen giving homophobes the ability to say “but Ellen said it’s okay” is a massive fucking betrayal.
I don’t care how many sitcoms you lost in the 90s.
— Happy Houlidays (@RyanHoulihan) January 4, 2019
(1) First, the people who brought up Kevin Hart’s past tweets — like me — were not, as Ellen characterized, “haters.” The host of the Oscars had made anti-gay jokes, and LGBT people who love the Oscars were legitimately startled to see just how harsh his words were. It wasn’t a…
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) January 4, 2019
Ellen’s show is basically the embodiment of respectability politics, so using it as a platform to absolve Kevin Hart on our behalf sounds pretty much on brand. Her sitcom allowed her to do something radical, which she suffered for, & she’s been running away from that ever since.
— Laurence “Laura Dern” Barber (@bortlb) January 4, 2019
The only thing @KevinHart4real proved by going on Ellen was that he is a terrible actor with zero genuine remorse who didn’t have the decency to address his ignorance. No, they weren’t “haters” who came after you. It was the LGBTQI+ community because we’re sick to shit of it.
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) January 4, 2019
I also believe in forgiveness. But I also believe that forgiveness requires an actual apology. Not “I’m sorry people are so sensitive.” Just “I am sorry.” All he had to do. And he indignantly refused because he felt his moment was being tainted. That he was the aggrieved.
— Eamon Paton-Usry (@Eamon2Please) January 4, 2019
this whole ellen/kevin hart thing is a perfect example of how privilege and constant praise distorts a person’s reality so much that they perceive any criticism, however valid, to be an attack on their entire livelihood
— ellie (@eleanorbate) January 4, 2019
ok i finally watched this and i am floored at the bullshit that Ellen let him spout uninterrupted. He’s concocting an alternative history here and Ellen didn’t challenge him on the facts one bit. let me explain… https://t.co/r92LOMsy6O
— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 4, 2019
Why didn’t you bring Black gay men, the ones who the comments were about, on the show? How do you, a white woman (@TheEllenShow), decide who gets to receive an apology where you were never the target of the comments? Y’all have got to start using privilege correctly. https://t.co/Ssr1aUNXJP
— Preston Mitchum (@PrestonMitchum) January 4, 2019
Jan. 4, 10:17 a.m. Updated with DeGeneres’ follow-up tweet.