Hart stepped down after years-old homophobic tweets of his surfaced following the announcement he would host. DeGeneres, who is gay, says Hart has already addressed the tweets in the past and that they should not keep him from hosting.
"You have grown. You have apologized. You're apologizing again right now. You've done it," she said.
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DeGeneres, who herself is a past Oscars host, said she reached out to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to get their take.
"They were like, 'Oh my God! We want him to host," she recalled. "'Whatever we can do. We would be thrilled, and he should host the Oscars.'"
Hart explained that, when the tweets re-surfaced, he felt that whoever had unearthed them was trying to completely destroy his career, not just his prospects of hosting the Oscars. He called it "a malicious attack on my character."
"Oh my God, this was to destroy me," he reflected. "This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships. My production company and the people that work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that have been invested in me."
Hart said he hopes what happened can prompt a bigger conversation.
"Somebody has to take a stand against the quote-unquote 'trolls,''' he said.
Hart did not say whether he will host the Oscars after all, but he did take to Instagram to call the conversation "by far the most raw/honest & authentic interview that I have ever done."
DeGeneres finished by telling him she believed that, if he doesn't return as host, he is letting the trolls win.
"Don't let those people win," she urged him. "Host the Oscars."
After DeGeneres posted the interview, some LGBT activists pushed back on social media, saying the conversation should have gone deeper.
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
Homophobic man yells at everyone for calling him homophobic.— sam greisman (@SAMGREIS) January 4, 2019
Ellen: How courageous! Apology accepted.
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.— deray (@deray) January 4, 2019