Ellen DeGeneres said she will “talk” Kevin Hart into hosting the Oscars.
US comedian and actor Hart pulled out of hosting the awards in December, amid controversy over homophobic tweets he posted almost a decade ago.
In an hour-long interview on The Ellen Show, Hart said he is “evaluating” his options. It is airing in the US on Friday on NBC at 15:00 GMT.
DeGeneres also revealed she had spoken to the Academy about Hart, and tweeted the hashtag, #OscarsNeedHart.
“In this conversation, @KevinHart4real was authentic and real, and I’m in his corner,” she said.
During the interview with DeGeneres, who is openly gay and hosted the Oscars in 2014 and 2007, Hart apologised again for the tweets, but said he did not want the awards to be about his “tweets from 10 years ago and homophobia”.
“I do not want to stand on that stage and make that night about me and my past, when you have got people who have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive a reward.”
He added: “Either my apology is accepted or it isn’t. Either I can move forward as a person or I can’t. But you can’t grow as a person without mistakes.
“There is no perfect bone in my body. I have made mistakes and I have embraced them all because I am a better man today because of it. I want to be done with this conversation.”
He added that he had apologised at the time, 10 years ago, for the tweets.
DeGeneres said: “I know you are not that guy because I know you. I think the night will be about you, and it should be about you, and you should host the Oscars, and I’m going to talk you into it.”
Has Hart ‘reached out’?
But Nick Levine, a UK journalist who writes about pop culture and LGBT issues, told the BBC: “Like Ellen DeGeneres, I believe in forgiveness and second chances, but I also believe those things need to be earned.
“Has Kevin Hart made any meaningful effort to reach out to the… community and listen to their perspective on why his past comments are so offensive and damaging?
“I think if he did that, he’d understand why things he said a long time ago – which he’s apologised for, and I’m sure completely regrets – have caused him to lose this incredible global platform.
“Once he demonstrates a greater awareness of why his comments hurt… we can start talking about forgiveness and the possibility of Hart hosting the Oscars again.”
Others have expressed a similar sentiment on social media.
‘We want him to host’
DeGeneres called the academy prior to the interview, because she had initially been “so excited” about Hart being asked.
“They were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host,'” DeGeneres recounted, explaining that they admitted the situation could possibly have been mishandled.
“The academy is saying, ‘What can we do to make this happen?'”, she said.
‘A malicious attack’
DeGeneres urged the Get Hard actor to “not pay attention” to the “haters on the internet.”
However, Hart described the revelation of his past tweets as a “malicious attack on his character…to destroy (him)”.
“It’s bigger than just the Oscars,” he said, emphatically stating that “somebody has to take a stand against the trolls”.
“Then they win,” DeGeneres responded, before saying she prays that he comes back.
“You have grown. You have apologised. You’re apologising again right now… don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
‘Least wanted job in Hollywood’
Hollywood Reporter recent said: “It’s January, so why is there still no host?” saying only twice before has the host not been announced until this month.
It said Jon Stewart was announced on 5 January 2006 and Whoopi Goldberg was revealed as host on 7 January 2002.
Last year’s ceremony attracted its smallest recorded US TV audience with 26.5 million total viewers, down from 32.9 million in 2017.
The magazine has also called hosting the Oscars “the least wanted job in Hollywood”.
It said: “Many who might appear perfect to host have sidestepped the job. Oprah Winfrey. Justin Timberlake. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Jerry Seinfeld…
“Even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who dazzled at the Golden Globes in 2013, 2014 and 2015, have reportedly passed on the Oscar job.”
This latest controversy comes after a difficult few years for the academy that have seen Envelopegate, the OscarsSoWhite campaign and the scrapping of a proposed popular film award category.
The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019.