Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Little big man

Hollywood hits have made Kevin Hart A MAN OF STATURE

  • Print

WASHINGTON -- The coffee can't arrive soon enough for Kevin Hart.

The comedian is trying his hardest to be alert during a photo shoot in a Georgetown hotel on a freezing February day, one of many appointments on a busy media tour for his new romantic comedy About Last Night, which opened Friday.

However, he can't stifle a mighty yawn that interrupts a short impromptu belting-out of the chorus from -- of all things -- A Whole New World from the Aladdin soundtrack.

Maybe Hart, a 34-year-old master of multitasking, can add "Disney singer" to his list of hyphenates, which include standup comic, producer, writer, social-media guru, media mogul and, most recently, box-office powerhouse.

He might stand only 5-foot-4, but he's starting to loom large in Hollywood, and with a broad audience.

"Universal, baby!" Hart exclaims, clearly getting a second wind. "I pride myself on appealing to everyone at the end of the day, not just black people, not just white people, not just Chinese people. That's one thing we as people share is laughter."

About Last Night finds him playing Bernie, a quick-witted, motor-mouthed guy who's constantly orbiting -- much to his chagrin -- the wild woman (Regina Hall) with whom he had a one-night stand.

Audiences can enjoy a Kevin Hart double feature, since his comedy Ride Along is still in theaters and has grossed US$106 million since opening in January -- the first movie to cross the US$100-million mark this year.

Add in the facts he had a major role in the 2012 surprise hit Think Like a Man and his 2013 concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain pulled in US$32 million (No. 4 all time in the genre, Box Office Mojo says). That makes Hart a bankable star, says Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations.

"He has that thing that Eddie Murphy had: You just like the guy," Bock says. "You want to be his best buddy. As far as box office goes, it means you want to buy a ticket for whatever he's in."

Hart doesn't take for granted the audience will be automatic, though. During down time in an interview, he takes 30 seconds to send a 140-character missive reminding his 9.8 million Twitter followers to get their tickets to About Last Night, a remake of the 1986 Brat Pack movie.

It has taken a lot of work for the Philadelphia native to build his brand. While some might see his success as overnight, he's spent more than 10 years stealing scenes in movies and TV shows, dating back to Judd Apatow's 2001-02 TV series Undeclared.

"I'm sure it looks quick to everyone else, because it always does," Last Night co-star Hall says. "But he's been working at it and he's been diligent, and he gets better and better."

Fostering a legacy is important for Hart, but he also doesn't forget the men who influenced his current track: Murphy, Chris Rock, George Carlin and Richard Pryor, among them.

"These are comedians who literally had the world in the palms of their hands because they were responsible for a good time," Hart says.

He also found their honesty about their foibles and shortcomings helped them to connect with audiences. That's why Hart has no problem being self-deprecating about his height in his comedy routine or in films.

"It takes a special person to laugh at themselves. I say what people may think before they say it, and when you address it first, it erases it," Hart says.

"It also sets a tone. People can laugh at you laughing at yourself. That opens up the arena for people to then laugh at themselves and at their problems. I'm not a perfect person, I'm flawed, so I put it out there."

Building an audience seems to be working out all right for Hart, who has started his own HartBeat Productions company he hopes can become a major player in the studio system. But until he becomes the comedic equivalent to Harvey Weinstein, the acting thing will suffice.

"He couldn't be in a better spot," Bock says. "I wouldn't be surprised if Sony pitches him Ghostbusters 3. He's going to have the opportunity to do a lot of these sequels to big films."

Still, "His next few films will be the things that Kevin Hart wants to see," adds Bock. "He's reached the point in his career where he can be choosy."

Next up is the sequel Think Like a Man Too (opening June 20), then he teams with Josh Gad for the comedy The Wedding Ringer (January). There's small-screen stuff, too. Hart stars in the BET series Real Husbands of Hollywood and is developing a pilot about his life for ABC.

"That's why I haven't slept," Hart says, laughing about his increasingly full plate of projects. "Soon as you stop talking, I'm probably going to pass out."

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2014 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose flies towards the sun near the Perimeter Highway North and Main St Monday afternoon – See Day 10 for Bryksa’s 30 goose project - May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google