UB Interview: Kevin Hart Speaks on Current Success, Politics, The Five-Year Engagement & More
Kevin Hart is easily the funniest man in America right now, his talent as a comedian and actor has made him the most sought after talent we’ve seen in recent years. His break-out role in the film Scary Movie 3 was almost 10 years ago and he’s appeared in other hit films since including The 40 Year Old Virgin, Death At A Funeral and Scary Movie 4. Last week his film Think Like a Man was the #1 hit at the box office opening with 33 Million, bumping the The Hunger Games from #1. Today his latest film The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) opens starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.
Kevin spoke to UrbanBridgez.com about his current success, his thoughts on Dave Chappelle, the moment he first realized he was funny, President Obama, his current films Think Like A Man & The Five-Year Engagement, up-coming projects & much more!
UrbanBridgez.com: You are definitely one of the top comedians in the world right now, how does that feel?
Kevin Hart: It’s a good feeling. I try not to think about it too much. I don’t want to get lost in the hype. Sometimes when you hear so much and everybody is praising you, you can get lost in that. You can start thinking that you are on a higher pedestal than everyone else. So I try to stay level headed, humble and the best way to do that is to not really acknowledge it that much. I just keep grinding and working as hard as I can. I also set my goals higher so that I don’t have time to be content with my place in life and in my career.
UrbanBridgez.com: Speaking of getting lost in the hype, what are you thoughts about Dave Chappelle? Everyone knows that he hit a high point in his career and then he disappeared.
Kevin Hart: Here’s the thing; I think Dave Chappelle is a genius. I think he’s brilliant. I think he’s one of the best comedians that we’ve had in our generation. It’s easier for some people on the outside to judge without knowing really what a person is going through or what there circumstances were. At the end of the day, Dave had standards. Within his standards he refused to compromise on certain things. When asked to compromise he didn’t want to so he did what some people can’t do, which is walk away from an opportunity. Everyone else just sees dollar signs but it’s bigger than that to him. The reason why is because he already has money. And if you already have money it’s very hard to control a person and I don’t think Dave wanted to be controlled. I stand by me saying that I think Dave is a damn genius. It’s easy for people to point a finger and call someone stupid and crazy. But, I’ve known him and I respect him and I’m quite sure there is more to Dave Chappelle’s story than anyone else knows.
UrbanBridgez.com: Can you share a little bit about your road to success?
Kevin Hart: My road to success was a long road to success was a long road. I’m 32 now and I’ve been doing this since I was 17 or 18 years old. You get out of something what you put into it. I put blood, sweat and tears into stand-up comedy and the entertainment realm in general. For me to just know be coming around is a blessing. It’s a blessing and it’s an honor. It makes me say I can get more and I can do more. So from stand-up comedy, to driving back and forth from Philadelphia to New York, to moving to New York and then LA. Having to be in LA and then go tour and do college tours and do every small place you can name; the road is worth it. If you don’t have that road and if you don’t have all of those bumps that you had to go through, you don’t have the character that you have now. I can say right now that I’m poised and I understand the business because of what I’ve been through. It’s very hard to shake me right now.
UrbanBridgez.com: How old were you when you realized that you were actually funny?
Kevin Hart: I would say I was probably about 10 years old. I had to do go to a family reunion and I did an impression of my Mom and her sisters. So I had like this big sweat suit on and I put a bunch of balloons in it and that was supposed to be their butts and chest. My family was rolling and I had people on the floor and that’s when I was like “I’m a bad dude. I’m pretty damn funny. I’m gonna be the next Lenny Bruce.”
UrbanBridgez.com: What was your favorite and least favorite role so far?
Kevin Hart: My favorite role is probably going to have to be Cedric from Think Like A Man. I got to be myself. I got to do what I wanted to do for a long time which is cut loose and go all out. It was kind of no holds bar for me in that movie and because of that it turned out amazing when I saw it. I really take off my hat off to my cast members, because without them I wouldn’t be able to score the way I was scoring in that film. I definitely got set up to dunk the ball a lot in that movie! My next favorite role was probably “Paper Soldiers.” I don’t like to say least favorite. It’s all work and it’s all putting food on the table. So I don’t want to say a least favorite role. At the time that I did it I’m quite sure I needed it so I’m appreciative for every role that I’ve had.
UrbanBridgez.com: And speaking about the cast letting you slam dunk in Think Like A Man, how was the vibe on set? Did they let you guys improvise a lot and just got for it or did you have to for the most part stick to the script?
Kevin Hart: They let us improvise. It was literally like, “we want to get what we have here on paper, and after we get it let’s see what you can bring to it.” So 9 times out of 10 we brought some stuff to it and after bringing stuff to it, which kind of motivated you to want to do more or think about doing more. So Tim Story was very, very good in having a relationship with his actors and actresses. If it was too much he would pull you back in, if it was too little he would tell you that you could do a little more. We all had a lot of fun and I think that’s how we got a great result with what we did. Tim Story was great.
UrbanBridgez.com: What were you thoughts about the book which the movie is based on?
Kevin Hart: Well I didn’t read the book until after I got the part. Once I got the part I said oh okay let me read the book so I can be well versed on it. I read it, and after reading it I thought it was a good book. You don’t get to be a #1 seller for no reason. It was a well-written book and very smart. As far as the women thinking like a man, I don’t know if a woman necessarily needs to think like a man. I think a woman needs to understand who she is and acknowledge her self-worth. If she does then she will be taken care of. If she doesn’t it will be a very long road for her.
UrbanBridgez.com: In terms of casting for the film what was that process like? Did they say we definitely have to cast Kevin Hart in this film?
Kevin Hart: I was casted first. Will Packer met with me and I had a conversation with him. He said this film is going to be good and we think your involvement will make it better. We are going after you first and nobody else is in the cast yet. I said okay cool let’s do it. After casting me in the film they met and went down their wish list and I’ve never seen a movie get put together faster. Literally everybody was happy to be on board and wanted to do it which was great.
UrbanBridgez.com: As far as your involvement in The Five-Year Engagement movie, how did that come about?
Kevin Hart: It was just relationships. Jason Seagel is a great friend of mine and I’ve known him for years. They presented me with an opportunity saying “Hey Kev, we’ve got an opportunity for you and we think you would be funny but we’ve got to find a way to put you in the film and write you in.” They developed the character in like two days, I fell in love with it and then I was casted.
UrbanBridgez.com: What was the experience like working with Jason Seagel and Emily Blunt?
Kevin Hart: It doesn’t get any funnier. I think Jason is hilarious and Emily is brilliant. Their chemistry is great. They did a great job of putting a smart comedy together. You believe that these two people really exist in real life. I think that’s the brilliance behind their movies. You want to believe it and you want to see who you can relate to. This movie is relatable and people are going to be able to relate.
UrbanBridgez.com: How easy or difficult do you think it is (coming from your background) to cross over from urban films to mainstream Hollywood?
Kevin Hart: It’s definitely not the easiest thing (laughing), its difficult…you just have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself. When it does you have to say okay, let me make sure I do what I’m supposed to do and be as professional as possible and go above and beyond to shine. At the end of the day you want to appeal to everyone. You don’t want to appeal to just one specific audience. You want to be funny to black people, white people, and Chinese people; whoever it is you want to be funny to them. So for me right now, I think Think Like A Man and The Five-Year Engagement” are going to be really great for me. They are both putting me in a great place because I think they are both universal movies that people are going to enjoy and that are going to appeal to everyone.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for Kevin Hart?
Kevin Hart: Cataclysm is up next with Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, James Franco and the list goes on and on. My “Let Me Explain Now” tour is coming soon. “House Husbands” is also coming soon to BET. I’ll be in Modern Family around May 1st. I’m busy. I can’t complain at all.
UrbanBridgez.com: Can you talk a little bit about House Husbands. That skit was a huge hit at the BET Awards.
Kevin Hart: It started as a sketch that I did to make fun of those reality shows like Basketball Wives and The Real Housewives of ATL. It was a mock of those women, what they do and the way they argue. I think it will be funny to see men acting catty and behaving the way that they do. I call it a “mock reality show.” So think sketch meets reality.
UrbanBridgez.com: What was your reaction when you found out how successful your standup comedy tour did at the box office?
Kevin Hart: I’m still shocked!!! I’m still in awe and amazed. The beauty of it is that I own it, it’s mine. It’s done through my company, Heartbeat Productions. So that return comes to me. So just know that you can do stuff on your own. You can be independent if you have the capital and relationships to pull it off. That’s one thing that I pride myself on which is building relationships. I’m at a point now where I can honestly do things on my own and be responsible for my personal development. So at the end of the day, if Hollywood refuses to deal with me and doesn’t want to deal with me anymore; I’m setting up my own path and my own empire so it’s cool.
UrbanBridgez.com: What are you future plans in terms of doing different types of roles?
Kevin Hart: When the time is right I’ll do them. I’m not in no rush. Right now the comedy is great. I love it. I love laughing. When the time comes and those dramatic roles present themselves, I’ll be more prepared and ready for those as well. It’s not like I’m sitting up today saying I need to play Shakespeare in the next film or I’m ready to be Peter Pan. I’m having fun with comedy so I’m going to stick here for a minute.
UrbanBridgez.com: Switching over to politics really quick, are you team President Obama?
Kevin Hart: I’m definitely team Obama for life. I think for one you have to respect what this man is doing and what he had to clean up. He was dealt a bad hand from the beginning. When you are dealt a bad hand you have to play that hand and try to find a way to make it a good hand. And to make it a good hand it takes time. People are inpatient but people will realize that his path is a rough path and he’s getting through it. He is making change just at a slower pace than people want it to be but like I said he’s cleaning up a lot. I’m still team Obama and hopefully he will stay in office.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Kevin Hart: My name is Kevin Hart and I want to RULE THE WORLD!! Live, Love & Laugh.