Kevin Hart Says He Was 'Educated' After Backlash to Past Homophobic Jokes: It Was 'Necessary and Needed'

The actor said it was a "come-to-Jesus moment" for him

<p>Jon Kopaloff/Getty</p> Kevin Hart

Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart learned from a past controversy.

Back in 2018, the comedian, 44, stepped down from hosting the Oscars after his years-old homophobic comments were resurfaced, sparking controversy.

Hart said in a statement at the time, "I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past." He added, "I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart."

In a new interview with WSJ. Magazine's Men’s Spring 2024 Fashion issue, Hart said the controversy was "a come-to-Jesus moment" for him.

“Sometimes it’s okay to take a step back and to be educated. I got a crash course," he added. "It was one that was necessary and needed."

Hart has continued on in his standup comedy career in the years since, and he's racked up big movie roles in Jumanji: The Next Level and several Netflix films like Lift, Me Time and Fatherhood.

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<p>Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images</p> Kevin Hart

Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images

Kevin Hart

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Geof Wills, president of Live Nation Comedy, told WSJ. Magazine of Hart's comedy style today, "He’s not divisive. He’s not political. Everyone feels good. Everyone has a great time. Kevin’s like a great pop record."

Hart further explained of his approach, "It isn’t just about the ability to tell the joke. It’s about the ability to make the joke lead to the TV, the TV to the movie, the movie to the ownership. The jokes acted as my door to get to the things that I’m really good at."

Back in 2020, Hart told Men's Health that when it came to his initial response to the 2018 backlash, "I did f--- up."

"With the whole Oscars thing, there was a big gap between what I thought the problem was versus what the problem really was,” he said at the time. "I got 10 years where I made sure not to joke or play in the way that I did back then because it was a problem. I don’t care if you’re gay or not gay. I’m a people person. I’m going to love you regardless.”

He added, “It wasn’t until close friends like Wanda Sykes, Lee Daniels, and Ellen [DeGeneres] talked to me and explained what they didn’t hear me say that I understood. Then I was like, ‘Oh, s--- —I did f--- up.' "

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty </p> Kevin Hart at the 2016 Oscars

Kevin Winter/Getty

Kevin Hart at the 2016 Oscars

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In January, Hart said on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen hosting the Oscars is "not going to happen" for him now.

“Kill the idea of it, it’s not going to happen,” said Hart when Cohen said he was “still ready” for him to host the awards show. “There’s just no return of good,” Hart continued. “What is it doing for me? There’s no upside at this point. That’s the only reason why.”

The actor added, "I think at a point of time in my career, it was something that acted as a bump and want, just to get a notch in my belt of something else that I was able to obtain and view. But I’m far beyond and past that. But I don’t need that at this point."

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