Kevin Hart is on a roll. The man, who has been charming stand-up audiences for years – both live and on the silver screen (like in his Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain) – has now been taking over Hollywood. He has stolen scenes in Think Like a Man, This Is The End and Grudge Match. Now, he is set to take on a new role as leading man in the comedy Ride Along, before starring in About Last Night and Think Like a Man Too. We caught up with Hart to talk about his meteoric rise, starring opposite Ice Cube and for the person who we think is the funniest man in America, what was the most hilarious scene in the uber-funny Ride Along.
As teased in the Ride Along trailer, Hart is Ben, who wants to propose to the sister of Cube's character James. But, he knows that James thinks very little of him and must do something big to prove he is the man for James’ little sis. Once he’s accepted into the police academy, the opportunity presents itself as Ben agrees to go on a ride along with James, who is a detective patrolling the rougher streets of Atlanta.
For Hart, getting to mess with Cube while he has to sit there and take it was the absolute most hilarious moment in the whole movie for him. We couldn’t agree more as the man who used to front N.W.A. can be kind of tough, and to witness him being picked apart by Hart is knee-slapping to say the least.
“My favorite has to be the warehouse where I slapped [Ice Cube]. Then I stuck him with a knife. That was so fun. Those were some long days and he just had to sit there in the chair. Cube didn’t have a lot of activity to do. It was just me running around,” Hart said. “I was really laughing out loud so much during that take.”
There’s also another moment in Ride Along that Hart wants audiences to take notice of. “There’s the scene with my shirt off in this movie. That’s going to change my career,” he said and laughed. “This is what people have wanted to see for some time. And at 29 minutes and 56 seconds is when it happens. You want to circle that. Everything about that says, ‘Action!’”
On a more serious note, Hart has the utmost respect for Cube. "Knowing Cube’s background and knowing the comedic careers that he’s launched and he’s going into producing and directing and writing, just as a man who has taken his career seriously and opened so many doors, I was excited,” Hart admitted.
“After meeting with him and talking and vibing with him and talking about the project and seeing his passion, I grew more excited. Once we got on set, we both had the same agenda, which was to knock this movie out of the damn park and make sure we both bring our A-game. It takes a true professional to let someone like myself come in and have the opportunity to be funny and riff, and Cube, he didn’t mind doing that. That’s a major thing. There are so many people who would try to battle with the funny. Cube did a great job of playing his lane and letting me do my thing and I take my hat off to him for that. It’s a different level of respect I have for guys like that.”
As the comic superstar he is, Hart keenly knows what makes a comedic film work and he had a perfect partner in that effort with Cube. They wanted Ride Along to feel like a hybrid of 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon and all the while, to truly stand on its own. “Cube was vocal in saying, ‘I want this movie to be different. I want you to be along with these guys and I want it to make sense.’ Tim Story (director) did a good job of making sure we were all on the same page. The big thing he said was grounding it,” Hart said.
“I asked every day to Tim: make sure I’m not all over the place with my levels. I want to be funny, but it has to be a believable funny. If I’m just out there screaming with my hands up -- I’ll look like a cartoon at the end of the day. I feel that he tracked both of our characters. From the hospital where Cube feels that’s a moment to confide in me and tell me some stuff that I don’t know and when I have a moment where we’re outside the strip club, where I’m like, ‘Why do you not like me? You don’t even know me,’ you see these vulnerable moments and it elevates the material.”
Hart has worked with Story on Think Like a Man, so the two had a working relationship already. That didn’t mean that Story didn’t become the subject of some Hart hilarity on the set. “Tim is greedy as hell. I’ve never seen anyone eat more throughout the day,” Hart said. “I was just smacking (expletive) out of his hands. I would wait for him to get something and get down to his last three pieces and just smack it out of his hands!”
The comedic actor has the ultimate respect for his Ride Along helmer, and it’s easy to see why. “The good thing about Tim is he literally has such a great rapport with his actors. The most important thing for a director is being able to communicate. When you communicate comfortably, regardless of what you’re saying, it can always be processed,” Hart said.
“Even if it was him critiquing you, it came off so comfortable to where it was OK. You have to credit your director with that because if he’s high strung and you see a vein in the middle of his head every day and he’s always taking his hat off looking at the time, something ain’t right. We never had that feeling, ever."
As Hart is having a Hollywood run unlike any other right know, lastly we wondered… when does it hit you?
“I still don’t know if I made it. The minute I think about it is the minute I go crazy. I don’t like addressing it. It’s a dream to me,” Hart said. “That’s why I don’t go to sleep. I’m afraid I close my eyes, this (expletive) will be over.”