Is there a comedian today hotter than Kevin Hart? The Philly native with dozens of TV and movie roles and sold out concerts around the country has broken through the tough and tumble competitive world of show business to become the guy who everyone wants to work with—and laugh with as well.
Not only does Hart prove his comedic everythingness in his latest film, the hit romantic comedy Think Like A Man, but he currently has two other film projects in the works as well--Con Ed, with Think producer Will Packer, and another comedy at Universal with Seth Rogan about the first integrated buddy cop team set in the late 40’s. EBONY.com recently had an opportunity to talk to Hart about the raging success of Think Like a Man, the art of the steal, and his small, er, humble beginnings.
EBONY: People are going to love Think Like A Man because it’s probably not what they expect. It’s a sophisticated, smart comedy with believable characters. Not the type of over the top, buffoonery you often get in Black comedic films like this.
HART: Yes, we wanted to make a smart movie. We didn’t want to have the stereotypical Black film. We wanted to make a film with a Black cast that could be considered an universal film. Where people would say: “WOW! We actually could make more movies like this!”
EBONY: It's an all-star cast but you were out to steal the film, we weren’t you?
HART: (laughs) Well, you know, man, I wanted to be in a position where I was able to be funny, but at the same time could tell a story. They gave me a character that had levels. Yes, I was funny, but at the same time my character is getting divorced and going through a lot of emotions. You can’t do what I do without a good cast to set you up and to put you in a position to work. I take my hat off to all the actors and actresses in the film because I was improvising, I was going off the script at times, but nobody was left behind. I never felt that like somebody couldn’t keep up, or maybe I’m doing way too much. We had a thin line that we were on and we didn’t want to cross it. Because if you cross that line the movie becomes wacky and zany and we wanted to stay in the realistic realm.
People see my journey. When you have people who have followed you from the beginning and really understand your path those are different kind of fans.
EBONY: I've heard that it's hard to improvise with another actor because you have to make sure that the actor you’re with is still “in the scene” and you can’t dominate it because then the scene is off balance and everything is screwed up—and the actor is mad at you because you’re upstaging them…
HART: (laughs) Exactly! I had a great relationship with the director Tim Story. I would always come to him first and tell him I would tell him look there are certain things that I want to do in this scene. He would tell me, "Okay, I think this is smart, the direction you want to go is smart and if you go too far I’ll bring you back." I had the same conversation with the actors where I would say, "Hey guys what do you think of this? What If I go here and come back here? What drives the scene more?" Those levels of discussions we had about it did exactly what we thought it would do for film—make it better.
EBONY: Your comedy stand up film, Laugh at My Pain, was one of the most financially successful films of last year. You think that’s when Hollywood finally took notice of you?
HART: They had no choice but to notice me. I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve got 15 years in the business—a patient 15 years. I’ve taken my licks, I've done things that I got criticized for, I’ve done TV shows and movies that weren’t good. But all that did was build character and give me experience. And within time, I went and built this stand-up comedy career where I said I’m going to focus on me to the point where Hollywood will have to take notice.
Building my stand-up comedy career and my social media presence allowed me to get to the point where financially I could say, "Well, let me gamble on myself." I personally invested money in myself. I put up $700,000, did the movie, distributed theatrically independently though Codeblack Entertainment and we made some $7.8 million on just 200 screens nationwide—which is unheard of. So the fact that we were able to do what we did made Hollywood sit up and say, “Wait minute! Why is this guy moving these type of numbers? What is it about this guy?” So now they’re having conversations