Will Kevin Hart host the 2019 Academy Awards after all? Ellen DeGeneres made a strong case for the comedian to reverse his decision to step down as Oscar host in the wake of the controversy sparked by unearthed 10-year-old homophobic tweets. The move adds yet another dramatic twist to the host search for the February ceremony, which has gone down to the wire, with The Academy reportedly considering multiple presenters or even no host at all.

During a lengthy interview on her syndicated talk show, which was taped Thursday and will air Friday, DeGeneres, herself a former Oscar host, said that she had called The Academy earlier in the day to ask them whether they would consider reinstating Hart as host. “We want him to host, whatever we can do, we would be thrilled, and he should host,” DeGeneres said of the reaction she got from The Academy.

Addressing the Internet “trolls” who toppled Hart’s dream gig of hosting the Oscars with their online attacks, DeGeneres said, “Don’t pay attention to them; they are a small group of people who are very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want you to host the Oscars.”

Hart was hesitant, saying, “it’s tough for me because it was an attack, a malicious attack on my character, to end me.”

DeGeneres responded that “they (the “haters”) will win if you don’t host the Oscars. You can’t let them destroy you because you have too much talent, and for them to stop you from your dream, from what you want to do, what you have the right to do, what you should be doing… Don’t let those people win, host the Oscars… That’s why they (The Academy) haven’t found another host, because they are secretly hoping that you would come back.”

During the interview, the popular actor-comedian detailed his reaction to the resurfaced old tweets just hours after he had been named Oscar host and his initial decision to ignore the story as he said he had already addressed them multiple times in the past. But his silence only fueled the firestorm, and the controversy grew. Once he was presented with an ultimatum by The Academy to apologize or lose his hosting gig, Hart said he felt he should apologize again but walk away so he doesn’t overshadow the winners on the Oscar stage. As for the actual comments in the insensitive old tweets, Hart insisted that he has grown as a person over the past decade and understands that what he said back when he was “an immature comedian” was wrong.

Despite Hart’s unwillingness to expose himself to another Internet backlash, DeGeneres persisted, even opening one of the last segments in the interview with, “We’re back with this year’s Oscar host Kevin Hart.”

It paid off as Hart ultimately said, “Leaving here, I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation. Let me assess, just sit in the space and really think, and you and I will talk before anything else.”

Here are videos of the interview:

DeGeneres urges Hart to return as Oscar host, reveals The Academy also wants him back, plus Hart’s reaction:

Hart saying that he is “evaluating” the conversation with DeGeneres about possibly returning as Oscar host.

Hart on the Oscar hosting controversy, the tweets that triggered it, and his decision to step down.