A Heart to Heart with movie star, comedian Kevin Hart
Funny man talks about making it, crying on stage, heartbreak
Born in Philadelphia on July 6, 1980, Kevin Hart is one of the most versatile comedic actors in both television and film. He’s recently delivered memorable performances in Think Like a Man, which grossed over $90 million in theaters, as well as in Judd Apatow’s The Five Year Engagement.
He previously appeared in Little Fockers, Death at a Funeral, Fool’s Gold, Along Came Polly and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. His additional film credits include: Soul Plane, Not Easily Broken, Extreme Movie, Drillbit Taylor, Epic Movie, The Last Stand, Scary Movie 4, In the Mix, Meet Dave and Superhero Movie.
Kevin’s stand-up DVD, Seriously Funny, went platinum four times, after the Comedy Central presentation of the same name became the highest-rated comedy special of 2010. Last summer, fans across America were treated to Kevin’s side-splitting stand-up comedy in Let Me Explain, an international tour to nearly 100 cities across the United States, Europe and Africa.
Here, he talks about Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, a concert film shot mostly at his final stop, Madison Square Garden.
What inspired Let Me Explain?
I had a helluva year. This tour pretty much exceeded my expectations of what I was going to accomplish. It started off in 5,000-seat venues and eventually escalated to larger arenas with 15,000 seats and more, once I got to major cities and left the country and began selling out in places like Oslo, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The support that I received from my fans was unreal.
How do fans in countries like Norway and Denmark, where they speak another language, understand you? Did you talk slower or change your delivery for them?
No, I don’t have to change anything. I think that’s the secret to comedy. You want to be universal and appeal to everyone. You want to put yourself in a position that no matter what you’re talking about, everyone can relate to it and understand it, because it’s an experience that everyone can go through. That’s what I pattern my writing material and jokes after. I’m trying to maintain a level of realness that my fans can appreciate.
One of the themes of this show was convincing your fans that success hasn’t gone to your head. But isn’t life a lot different for you now than a couple of decades ago? After all, you’re from North Philly and started out as a shoe salesman.
Well, things changed, but only to a certain degree. Just because your environment or living space changes doesn’t mean that your attitude necessarily has to change. By “attitude,” I mean the way you interact with others. You don’t have to treat people differently.
You may be living a different lifestyle, but the person living that different lifestyle still can relate to anybody and have the same amazing personality of the guy from North Philly. The people around me haven’t changed. The people who have been in my life since the beginning are still in my life now. I think that has a lot to do with my staying grounded and humble despite the success I’ve achieved.
You talk a lot about dating in the movie. Is there a Kevin Hart relationship advice book in the works?
[Chuckles] Funny you should mention that, Kam. I don’t know if I’m at the relationship advice stage yet. I do have a lot of information to share, and a book is definitely in the works, but I don’t know whether it’ll be geared toward relationships.
In the film, you cried at the end of the concert at Madison Square Garden. What was the emotion that overwhelmed you at that moment?
I never thought in a million years that I’d ever sell out back-to-back shows at The Garden. That’s not to say I never expected my career to take off. Still, it was a “Pinch me, wake me up” moment. I was like, “Wow! I can’t believe this. That I’m actually here, and this is actually happening.” And in that moment, when I was about to thank my fans for supporting me, I noticed that they were standing up clapping. It was overwhelming, and became a very emotional moment when I tried to thank them.
I also liked how you had pyrotechnics going off onstage during the show periodically.
[Laughs] That was my way of joking around by saying, “I’m about to jump into a different level, because I have fire.” Ain’t no other comedian ever had fire.
When did you know you had made it?
The beauty of it is that I don’t think I’ve ever really relaxed. I want to do too much within the business. And there’s so much you can achieve with a launching pad like stand-up comedy. You can literally go from acting to hosting to being a personality to …
To the Real Husbands of Hollywood?
[Chuckles] To the Real Husbands of Hollywood. It all depends on what you’re willing to invest time and effort in and put your mind to. That’s what separates winners from losers. Winners are the ones who want the most out of their opportunities.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Creation, getting behind a project from start to finish, and being able to see it blossom into a success.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I can’t cook, but I can make a turkey and cheese sandwich like nobody else.
What excites you?
Seeing my kids happy.
What was the last book you read?
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
What was the last song you listened to?
Salt-N-Pepa’s Push It.
Who is your favorite clothes designer?
Right now, I’d have to go with two: Lanvin and Yves St. Laurent.
What was your best career decision?
Focusing on stand-up comedy 100 percent.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see a man with drive and determination who wants to go down in history.
If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
For a better-looking pair of feet.
If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time?
I would spend absolutely every last minute with my kids, telling them how much I love them and how much I would do for them.
How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
Going through my divorce has changed who I am in my understanding of what’s good and bad in relationships.
You talk about the divorce in your act. How hard is that?
Once again, that’s what separates the best from the crowd. Those who are willing to open up and show a vulnerable side are the ones who have gone on to achieve so many amazing things.
What’s the difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person you pretend to be on the red carpet?
None at all. That’s who I am.
If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
To be able to read people’s thoughts.
What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
That’s a great question — drive.
If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
If they were ever to remake Goodfellas, I’d love to play Joe Pesci’s role.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Hard work and determination equals success. Nothing comes easy. Put your mind to something. The best feeling in the world is seeing the benefits and rewards of hard work.
What is your favorite charity?
I participate with so many, but my goal is to get my own off the ground once I slow down. It’ll be dedicated to my mom, who I lost to ovarian cancer.
How do you want to be remembered?
As a good father, as a great person and as a hard worker.