Prodded by Ellen DeGeneres, comic Kevin Hart says he'll reconsider his decision to step down as host of the Academy Awards.
Hart had backed away two days after being named host last month when some homophobic tweets he had made a decade ago resurfaced.
But DeGeneres urged him to host the show during an interview that aired Friday on her talk show. The motion picture Academy has not named a replacement host for its Feb. 24 awards show.
"You have grown," DeGeneres told him on her show. "You have apologised. You're apologising again right now. You've done it. Don't let these people win. Host the Oscars."
She applied subtle pressure by saying after one commercial break, "We're back with this year's Oscars host, Kevin Hart."
Hart told her that "you have put a lot of things on my mind" and that he would think about their conversation.
DeGeneres said she called the Academy this week to urge that Hart be brought back, and was told that officials would be "thrilled" if he did. An Academy representative did not immediately return messages for comment.
Hart posted homophobic remarks on Twitter mostly between 2009-2011, including one where he said: "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."' It was later deleted. He has also made anti-gay comments in his stand-up in the past.
Hart told DeGeneres that when his old messages resurfaced, "what was once the brightest light ever just got real dark."
He initially said he wouldn't apologise because he had addressed the issue several times. But given an ultimatum to apologise, he did so and stepped down.
Hart said it was hard for him because he considered it an attack when his tweets resurfaced a day after he got the Oscars gig.
"That's an attempt to end me," he said. "That's not an attack to just stop the Oscars … Somebody has to take a stand against the … trolls."
DeGeneres let Hart speak in an uninterrupted monologue in which he seemed more angry about the situation than apologetic, and focused not on his renunciation of his former homophobia, but on how social media had stolen one of his dreams.
DeGeneres made light of her own sexuality, at one point joking that she hadn't actually come out to Hart when they had dinner because she was afraid he "wouldn't like it".
Later, DeGeneres tried to explain her defence of Hart as part of her characteristically "be kind" position on Twitter:
But DeGeneres received some resistance on social media, with some commenters saying that Hart's homophobic jokes were a legitimate issue for discussion, and it wasn't a case of people maliciously trying to hurt him.
Out, black and gay news anchor Don Lemon felt particularly wounded by DeGeneres's stance, as reported by film industry bible Variety:
In a column posted on Friday in the trade publication Variety, Caroline Framke argued that Hart hadn't proven that he'd learned much.
"If he gets the job back, it won't be because he's convinced his detractors that he actually cares about gay people," Framke wrote. "It'll be because he spun a story about vicious trolls going after him for no good reason. It might be a compelling enough angle to convince DeGeneres and her audience, but even if it manages to sway the Academy, it still won't actually be true."
The LGBTQ watchdog organisation GLAAD on Friday reiterated its position that Hart not step down as host but instead use the platform to "send an unequivocal message of acceptance to LGBTQ youth."
If there's a campaign to get him back, it couldn't have started more slickly: on the hugely successful talk show run by one of Hollywood's most prominent gay celebrities, who hosted the Oscars herself in 2007.