Things have been a bit quiet on the Kevin Hart front. For a minute there, you couldn’t go to the movies without seeing a preview for an upcoming project starring the white-hot actor. As soon as one of his films released, another was on its tail about to drop. But we haven’t seen a film from Kevin since February’s About Last Night.
On January 16, 2015, that volcano of films is about to erupt again with a smoldering concoction of comedy that only Kevin can serve. Next up is the buddy comedy The Wedding Ringer, starring Hart and Josh Gad (Frozen) that follows what happens when Josh plays an unpopular groom-to-be who turns to “best man for hire” Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) to help him impress his future in-laws. Nothing could go wrong there, right?
EBONY.com chatted with Hart on set about the film, which turned into a full-blown, hilarious conversation about how he relates to the role—to all his film roles for that matter—thoughts about his own upcoming wedding, a major screw-up he made on Twitter that he wishes he could take back, and his fear of losing touch with his fan base.
EBONY: With your constant stream of film releases and TV appearances, is there a time where you’re stretched too then?
Kevin Hart: No. You only get stretched too thin when you don’t control your career. I’m very much in control of what I do and how I do it, from stand-up to movies. It’s all a plan, from releasing Let Me Explain to taking a year-in-a-half to two years from touring before I go back out.
I have about six movies coming out, but you have to understand that these movies are all spread out. I’m filming them now, but they won’t be out for another year. Before these come out, I have some that are surfacing in the next couple of months. And after they surface, then there’s downtime where your DVDs then come out and circulate. Once everything dies down, my television show is back on. Then the TV show goes down and then a movie preview comes out. Then the movie comes out and goes away. And then all of a sudden Kevin goes back out on tour.
It’s a wave, but you have to dictate that wave and how often you want it to go up and how often you want it to go down. Being that I’m a sense of comedic relief for my fans, it’s very hard to get sick of what’s funny. You get sick of what’s sexy all the time and what does the same move. But when you see me in so many different things and on so many different levels, it’s kind of hard. And I’m an entrepreneur. I control all my sh*t. I’m a business, man.
EBONY: Are you ever afraid of losing touch? There’s some comedians we’ve seen quite honestly through time who have basically lost touch with their audience. They’ve become “too big” for us. Is that a fear of yours?
KH: You get too big when you lose contact. My way of promoting, my way of dealing with social media, you can pretty much see I’m very in touch with my fan base. I’m not in the house on top of a hill sitting with a zoo around me, you know? I’m out. I go out in the streets. I’m at your Targets, your Walmarts on a regular basis. I’m at parks with my kids. I walk my dog down the street. I ride my bike with my friends.
You can get too big to where you think you can’t be a pedestrian. And I think that’s when you lose sight of things. When you start to cut yourself away and get outside of society, that’s when you get weird, for lack of a better word. And you show up with shirts that are covering your palms, and you got leather glasses that just don’t make sense. That’s how you get weird. I don’t want to get weird.
EBONY: Let’s talk about your character in The Wedding Ringer.
KH: In this film, a play a guy named Jimmy. Movie being The Wedding Ringer, Jimmy is a guy who has a business where I provide those with no friends. You have a certain type of person who’s somewhat of a loner. And the biggest fear of being a loner is getting married and having a wedding and your wife presenting this huge plethora of people and as a husband you have two people on your side and none of those people can tell you anything about your life.
So to prevent that, I provide a best man service where I learn what I need to know about you and make you look like one of the best guys that ever walked the face of this earth and I get paid to do it. I’m very good at it. I’m a man of many personalities and many faces, but to contradict what I do, I don’t have a life myself. I’ve done so much for other people, and provide for other people and pretend. I don’t have anybody doing the same for me on an emotional level. So it’s actually a really funny movie with a great emotional backstory to it too. It’s a different character for me though.
EBONY: Because your character is in the business of making people feel good, do you find you could relate especially well to him compared to some of the other recent roles you’ve had?
KH: I think the one thing I’ve learned to do within doing these films is somehow put myself into the position of whoever I’m playing. My trick is putting myself in that situation. It’s not changing my voice, it’s not growing my hair down my back, which I couldn’t do anyway, or losing weight or gaining weight. It’s literally taking on the persona of this persona, of whatever this person does.
And I can see myself doing this. Not in a bad way to where I’m ripping people off. But sometimes it’s worth taking the hit to give somebody a boost in spirits. It’s worth just taking a seat on the backburner and making another person feel good or giving them the presentation of something else.
My nephews are in school, and one of my nephews is going through problems because nobody believed that I was his uncle. So when I finally talked to him, I saw where he was and how down he was and without telling him, I just showed up in Philadelphia with a brigade of SUVs. I had my security and all my friends and school let out and I was just standing there.
He’s 14, and he comes up and he sees me. But it was that one moment where all his friends see it and I’m like, “Yo man, you coming to the party with me tonight?” and I’m just saying stuff that’s so not true. “You want to come to the club with your uncle tonight?” But it was that moment of relief! Like, he felt good! It was wild! I took pictures with his friends and that lasted a long way. Now granted, I don’t have to talk to my nephew for another two years. But that one moment was me realizing that sometimes it’s worth doing that. And moments like that are what I used to identify with the character of Jimmy.
EBONY: Did you ever post something on social media you regret?
KH: I was doing a trending topic [on Twitter]. I forgot what it was, but I had made a comment about dark-skinned girls. The trending topic was something about money. And I said, “Dark-skinned girls broke.” And then I was like, “Light-skinned girls got good credit.” It was a whole topic of just me joking and they took this one thing and on social media the next day it was: “Kevin Hart Hates Dark-Skinned Girls. He Praises Light-Skinned Women, Calls Dark-Skinned Girls Broke Hoes.”
And I’m like, “What? Are you serious right now?”And literally, every caption: “Kevin Hart Takes Dark-Skinned Women to the Bank.” It was like I was a villain and I was like, “What?!” People were calling me. Like literally, my publicists called me and wanted a comment. And I probably came off like a bigger jerk with the comments ’cause I was like, “I’m not giving no f*cking comment. I’m not saying anything about what I said on Twitter.”
Like, I’m a comedian! I tell jokes all the time. I said, “If it’s not for you, then don’t read it. I’m not apologizing for thinking what I thought was funny.” That’s what I base my life off of. I got a slew of sh*t from dark-skinned girls for a while. I was out in the street and dark-skinned girls would see me [and say], “Yeah, you little fake ass.”
The timing couldn’t have been worse, because I had just got a divorce. My girl that I was seeing is, like, tropical and mixed. Everything just looked bad! And I was like, “I’m not going to address it! My daughter’s dark-skinned!” But that’s probably the only thing that if I could have taken something back, I would have taken that back.
EBONY: Everybody’s getting married in the movie, and several who are working on the production. Producer Will Packer, who just got engaged, said to ask about you getting married. [Ed. note: This interview took place before Hart proposed to his fiancée, Eniko Parrish.]
KH: I’m a divorced male, so my look on marriage is different. He’s saying that because he knows I have time in with my girl. It’s getting to a point, but when I’m ready. I don’t want to go through the divorce process again. So for me to get married, I have to be 175 percent positive that this is what I want to do. And I don’t want to go through the process of divorcing and splitting up. I had it once, I learned my lesson and I know what it’s about. It’ll take a while. It’ll take a lot for me to get there. A whole lot. But if I do, you can say that you heard me talk—kind of—about it. A little bit. A tad.
Nobody is going to be at my wedding. I’ll get married right behind that tree and a priest. I don’t need the big sh*t at all.
Crystal Shaw King is a seasoned TV, radio and online entertainment writer. She’s also a contributing editor for a social justice foundation in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @crystalamberbam.