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 announced on Tuesday.
But tweets from close to a decade ago emerged of 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.”
The controversy arises from comments Hart made during a comedy routine in 2010, that have been put under the spotlight in recent days.
“One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear,” he told the audience.
“Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do.
“But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
When he revealed he would be the Oscars host earlier this week, Hart said it was the “opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian” and that his mother was “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 people should “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 his assertion 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.