In town for a press tour of new cop buddy comedy “Ride Along” with Ice Cube, Mandy sat down with actor and comedian Kevin Hart to talk about the film, the already greenlit sequel, work ethic and his upcoming pairing with Will Ferrell.
His twitter bio, also known as 160 characters of personality insight, states ‘My name is Kevin Hart and I WORK HARD!!! That pretty much sums me up. Everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to do the work.’ With five times the number of twitter followers as Jerry Seinfeld and a clear passion for engaging with his fans, there is no doubt Kevin Hart is ready and prepared for international stardom – even while making sure he always says goodnight to his kids.
Congratulations on the film and welcome to Melbourne. When they mentioned Australia for the press tour were you like ‘yeah!’ or more ‘man that place is so far away’…
Kevin: I was excited! I love going to new places, I mean I’ve been here before, but right now I have the opportunity to take a product and expand it internationally and those aren’t moments that should be frowned upon – they should be smiled at. People would kill for this. I’m blessed and I’m happy I’m in this position and right now it’s about me taking full advantage of it and make sure I get the word out there. But even more importantly it allows me to connect with my fans.
And you have quite a few fans in Australia that I’ve seen from your Twitter account specifically…
Kevin: I have a nice number. [Gets a phone call from his children in the US]. Now you’re going to see something cool right now, this is how connected I am with my kids. [Says goodnight to his children at home as it’s their bedtime]. Sorry about, as you can see I’m a Daddy first, Daddy first all the time [laughs].
No problem, that’s great to see.
Now you and Ice Cube are obviously very different personas but work so well together on screen. How did the pairing come about?
Well the script was around for a long time, the script was sitting on a desk for about 8 – 10 years. They never felt like they could find the right two people to go and pull it off. Me and Cube’s name came up – Cube’s came up first because his company ‘Cube Vision’ found the script – and were saying that he should do it. He then called producer William Packer and director Tim Story, they got in touch with me and when they got in touch with me I read it literally ‘jumped’ at the opportunity. I was like you know what, this is a no-brainer, I’ve got to do it, its dope. Me and Cube got on the phone, we talked and we just shared the same type of passion about making this unique, making it modern, and how do we make it stand out. Me and Cube literally got the vibe, we were vibing on the phone call and one thing led to another and next thing you know we’re at a table read and you look up and we were on set and filming. But that day one we were like ‘this could be something special.’
Well you definitely can’t fake chemistry.
Kevin: No you can’t. You either have it or you don’t [laughs].
I loved how your character, Ben, was so desperate to impress his future brother in law, James (Ice Cube), but also very confident and comfortable within himself. He knows his own skills, and I really liked the scene early on when you see him working as a security guard at the school and he convinces a kid to go back to class. The way it was done was very in character but also gave him some important depth. Did you have much to with the development of Ben?
Kevin: Oh yeah, you want your character to be believable. You don’t just want to be a funny moment, you want to have levels. I think within this film Ben definitely does have levels, at the end of the day he’s a passionate guy – he loves! He loves his video games, he loves his woman, he loves the idea of becoming a cop and James is somebody who – he just wants his approval. But at the end of the day he’s kind of ‘hey man, I’m with your sister regardless, I’m trying to be nice, I’m showing you I’m a good guy, I don’t know what your problem is but I’m cool!’ It’s the constant push for this man to say ‘okay, you are cool, I get it, you can marry my sister’. And you know that means a lot to her which is why I’m trying to get it, but I’m very confident in my realm of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and that I’m doing it to the best of my abilities. So when he tries to throw me for this loop I think that’s what makes it so funny. When I find out that it’s not what I thought it was, now I’m pissed and now I’m going to go the complete opposite direction! But it’s great the way we get there. It’s grounded and it’s not over the top and I think that’s why people have responded to it so well.
Your character is very at home with video games but not so much the weapons aspect – did you have to learn any firing of pistols, hand guns…
Kevin: Oh I’ve fired a gun before – in movie sets let me clarify – so I’m no stranger to how they work. But just the jargon – the gamer talk – the Benelli’s, the AKs, the sustava’s. Those were tongue twisters so I wanted to make sure I had the annunciation down. That was definitely a challenge. The shot gun stuff was just funny. Me operating a hand gun was comedy, even when I got the Uzi it was comedy, so there was nothing where I had to go through a strenuous course of handling guns because that wouldn’t have suited my character. He wouldn’t have known how to do that – unless it was a joy stick [laughs].
Tika Sumpter plays your onscreen love interest, what was she like to work with?
Kevin: Oh Tika’s great! She’s a beautiful woman, up and coming, great actress. She’s got a drive like nobody else. She works hard and I think people are going to see a lot from her in the near future. She’s a talented actress and I’m lucky to have worked with her in this. We stole her.
So the film’s been incredibly successful in the US and will opening here in Australia shortly, but the sequel has already been greenlit we understand and everyone’s back on board?
Kevin: Yes yes. Everybody’s back on board. It’s a beautiful thing to have it greenlit but right now with “Ride Along” being released internationally we want success out here as well. It’s about putting the movie in position to win and that’s why I want to do the ground work. I want to come out and promote to all these different countries, I want to get myself out there as much as possible because at the end of the day I want to be an international star, and the only way to get there is literally going and putting the work in. The work that I plan on putting in is really really strenuous so by the time “Ride Along 2” comes around you’ll be seeing me again [laughs].
Well we appreciate it anyway – it is a long way to come.
Kevin: It’s fine, I got a lot of sleep on the flight, it’s fine [laughs].
Is there anything you particularly want to see in the sequel, any direction?
Kevin: I just want to see growth. Of course you don’t want things to stay the same, you want to move along. So with James and my relationship I would like to see where it’s evolved to, where we pick up at. With me and his sister – where are we at? Are we married, are we getting married? There’s tons of ideas to play with, it’s just about what fits, what makes sense but more importantly, what ride are we going to be able to take the fans on so that they’ll say ‘wow we did it again’. You can’t go backwards you can only go forwards.
You’re about to make a film with Will Ferrell, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Kevin: It’s called “Get Hard” and I start filming actually as soon as I land. We go right to work. Loosely based on the Bernie Madoff story about a guy who embezzles, is basically framed, and it’s about him trying to prove his innocence. But along the way he’s been given 30 days before he goes to jail so it’s about him finding this guy to prepare him for jail, and because I’m black he assumes I know all about it. And of course I think it’s the most ridiculous thing ever because he’s made such an awful stereotype I decide to take him up on his offer and take his money and put him on a whirlwind of what I like to call my ‘Jail Curriculum’.
How to survive in jail 101?
Kevin: Yep, it’s about doing that and slowly realising that this guy might be innocent and then me and him trying to solve the case and prove it. But it’s very funny how we get there. It’s me and Will Ferrell, it’s a great duo and I think this movie is going to be a large platform of laughs. People are going to laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, I can’t wait to get to work on it. It’s going to be special.
Well I hope you get to come back for that one as well.
Kevin: I hope so! I’ll be back, I’ll be back a lot don’t worry [laughs].
“Ride Along” hits Australian cinemas 20 March and you can follow his promotional journey at #RideAlongWithKevin
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