An Interview with Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart arrives for a premiere of “Soul Plane” on Monday, May 17, 2004, in Los Angeles, California. Nicolas Khayat

Kevin Hart arrives for a premiere of “Soul Plane” on Monday, May 17, 2004, in Los Angeles, California.

The wildly successful comedian and actor, Kevin Hart, recently came to St. Louis to perform stand-up at the Scottrade Center, but he also managed to stop by the Esquire on Thursday night for a special screening of his upcoming movie “Think Like A Man,” which opens April 20th. Hart, who can also be seen in “The Five-Year Engagement” and reprising his role as Phil’s neighbor on the hit show, “Modern Family,” on May 2nd, headlines the enormous cast of stars including Gabrielle Union and Taraji P. Henson.

Hart introduced the film by trying to break down stereotypes about the movie. The film, in which the entire principle cast is black except for Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from “Entourage”), could be lumped in with Tyler Perry’s films as being meant for a black audience. “This isn’t a black movie,” said Hart. “It’s just a good movie.” After seeing it myself, I would definitely agree with that—it is just a fun romantic comedy with a cast that happens to be predominantly black.

The film is based off of Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,” which is what drew Hart to the film. “I liked where it came from. It was a book from the male point of view. Steve went in and talked about his mistakes, the things he did wrong in life. [Then, he] wants to give people advice, mainly women, on how to avoid bad guys. But it was from the male’s point of view. You’ve never seen a romantic comedy or just a comedy about relationships that deals with the male’s point of view.”

Kevin Hart helped narrative of the film with his unique brand of humor, which features a lot of self-deprecating jokes about his small stature. “I love to poke fun at my height when I have the chance. Self-deprecating comedy is the best comedy in the world to me. When you say things that people could possibly say about you first, you take it away.”

One positive for Hart was the fact that he was allowed to improvise during the film. “Tim Story was a great director. The one thing I love about Tim is that he allows you to bring what you feel you need to bring to a character. That was the best thing with my character. In my real life, I was going through a divorce at the time. I was able to take things from my personal life and incorporate them in with the character.”

While Hart has many acting gigs lined up, he loves the fact that he has stand-up along with them. “Stand-up is always going to be number one. The reason why is that I control stand-up. There’s nothing better than that immediate reaction. When I tour, those people are there to see me by myself. When you do movies, there is an editing process and a release date and you don’t have control over any of it. With stand-up, I control it.”

After three successful stand-up specials in the last three years, Kevin is preparing for his new hour, titled “Let Me Explain.” “That’s my baby. I’m explaining the mistakes that I feel I’ve made in the last year and a half to two years of my life. For me, I think my fan base has grown and gotten to where it is right now from me being honest and genuine. That’s what my fans respect most about me. ‘Let Me Explain’ is more honest material where people get to see what I do and how I do it.”

Kevin listed his influences as Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Seinfeld, and George Carlin. In Rock, he cited his quadruple threat talent as something he most admired. “Right now, I’m getting close to the quadruple threat. I’m maybe at two and a half or three now, but my chops are getting up there. I’m trying to move from acting, writing, to eventually executive producing and directing, but right now things are happening the way they are supposed to. I just have to be patient and wait for those opportunities to come.”