HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - Actor/comedian Kevin Hart announced Thursday evening he has stepped down as host of the Oscars, after he said officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences told him to apologize for homophobic tweets or he would be replaced as host.
"I passed on the apology," Hart said in a video posted on his Instagram account. "The reason I passed because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I've addressed it. I've spoken on it. I've said where the rights and wrongs were. I've said who I am now versus who I was then. I've done it. I've done it.
"I'm not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old. I've moved on. I'm in a completely different space in my life.
"The same energy that went into finding those old tweets could be the same energy put in to finding the response to the questions that have been asked years after years after years. We feed the internet trolls and reward them. I'm not going to do it man. I'm going to be me. I'm going to stand my ground.
"Regardless, Academy, I'm thankful and appreciative of the opportunity. If it goes away, no harm, no foul."
Hart later tweeted, "I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....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 LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."
"I'm sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."
The Academy did not respond Thursday night.
Hart drew criticism for a 2011 tweet "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.'" The tweet was deleted Wednesday or Thursday.
Hart was also criticized for a joke featured in a 2010 stand-up comedy special -- "One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. I'm not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will."
When asked about the segment by Rolling Stone in 2015, Hart explained that the joke was supposed to be about his worries as a father. He admitted it was not a joke he would make anymore, but not necessarily because he considered the joke or his attitude problematic.
"I wouldn't tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren't as sensitive as they are now," Hart told the Rolling Stone.
Hart was named as the show's host on Tuesday.
"For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same, I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it's suppose to," Hart wrote on his Instagram page. "I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars.
"I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time. To be able to join the legendary list of (hosts) that have graced that stage is unbelievable. I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now. I want to thank my family/friends/fans for supporting me & riding with me all this time. I will be sure to make this year's Oscars a special one. I appreciate (the Academy) for the opportunity. Now it's time to rise to the occasion."