US comedian and actor Kevin Hart says he has stepped down from hosting the 2019 Oscars following a controversy over homophobic tweets.
He said he did not want to be a distraction and that he was “sorry he had hurt people”.
The choice of Hart for host was only announced on Tuesday.
But tweets from a decade ago emerged of apparent anti-gay slurs, sparking calls for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to drop him.
Kevin Hart had said hosting the Oscars was “a goal on my list for a long time”.
But in a tweet late on Thursday he said he had chosen to step down “because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists”.
He said: “I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words of the 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.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
When he revealed that he would be host, Hart said it was the “opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian” and that “my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now”.
Earlier on Thursday it had appeared he would try to ride out the storm.
In an Instagram post he spoke out against the “negative energy” of the criticism, saying “stop searching for reasons to be angry”.
He said he was almost 40 years old and was “in love with the man I’m becoming”.
In a later video he said he had been called by the academy and asked to apologise or another host would be found. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology,” he said, repeating that the issue of the tweets had been addressed in the past.
He appeared to later change his mind and issue an apology as he stood down.
The role has thrown up problems for a number of past hosts and the Hollywood Reporter has called it “the least wanted job in Hollywood“.
The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019.