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Interview: Kevin Hart on Overcoming the Sony Controversy, Laughter as Medicine in ‘The Wedding Ringer’

Interview: Kevin Hart on Overcoming the Sony Controversy, Laughter as Medicine in 'The Wedding Ringer'

Now in theaters, “The Wedding Ringer” is much like
a cross between “Hitch” and “The Hangover” where Kevin Hart
plays a best-man-for-hire to a friendless bachelor who’s about to tie the knot
(Josh Gad), and the two form a budding bromance as they navigate the wedding
festivities. On a recent press tour, Hart spoke with Shadow And Act about making the film. 

On co-star Josh Gad

KEVIN HART: I can
tell you that we were lucky to get Josh Gad on this film. He exceeded
expectations above and beyond. We’re talking about a guy who not only is
talented, but he’s a good person. We chilled before we actually started filming
the movie, so that chemistry that you see on screen is even better off screen
and I think that’s why it was so amazing on camera. His performance elevated
mine; because he brought so much more to the character I was able to do much
more with my character. I can’t say enough about Josh.

Building chemistry with Gad before shooting

When we brought his name up [in casting] I said I wanted to
meet him. What’s important to me is gelling with the person. You can film a
movie with a person and if you don’t get along, those days that you work will
be long days. When you vibe and get along, you look forward to every day.

So in between takes, we’re joking and laughing and I think
everyone else feeds off of that energy. Thus far I’ve been fortunate to work
with people who have been like that, from my producers to directors to other
actors, I’ve had a good time on every single set and I think that’s why the
projects have come out great in return. So this time is no different. Josh and I
set the tone and that’s why you hear me bring his name up so much. This isn’t
just a Kevin Hart movie. I give Josh get his just due because he deserves it
and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for some time, I really
believe that.

Taking on different characters and performing impressions for the movie

This is a guy that felt he could become whoever he needed to
be for the right price. So these characters I came up with were just something
that me and the director and producer talked about, and said it’s funny if I
did my version of the black Jewish guy because this guy’s Jewish and I’m going
to his funeral, so this is how I can lie and say I was at his wedding.

These are stories that my character came up with in his head
to justify whatever he was doing. And showing those multiple personalities was
where we got a lot more room to play, and add some fun and some raunchy into
the film. A lot of it was improv. The whole speech that I gave [at the
funeral], that was all improv.

Giving audiences something to laugh about after the heavy events of
2014

Here’s what I do know: Laughter is something that everybody
shares. As a standup comedian, I know that’s the one thing that takes people’s
minds off of whatever drama they may be going through. Whatever problems or
moments of their life that have them down, those 5 or 10 minutes of laughter
make them forget that and have a good time. It gives them a restart button. “Everything
will be okay.”

And I think that’s what comedies are made to do. This is a
film that everybody can relate to, that everybody will be able to walk out of it
not only laughing but going yeah, I love the story. I love how these guys
actually became friends, and this is a dope story. I get it and I like the fact
that they pushed the envelope and made it so much more than a movie about a
wedding.

On the recent events with Sony, and whether it’s business as usual

Anybody who was surprised, I would say they’re not a realist.
It’s a business, okay? I am the CEO of my own company and when I’m negotiating
with people who are trying to get things from my company, they’re going to say
things. “I can’t believe that they’re asking for that! Why do they want
that? They don’t deserve that.”

But at the end of the day, that’s what negotiation is.
That’s what happens behind closed doors. And I’m quite sure that there’s things
said that haven’t come out that are probably even worse. But at the end of the
day I don’t judge or knock them. On my side as an entertainer, as an actor, as
a comedian, I understand my brand and what I feel that I deserve. And no matter
what, I don’t budge unless those needs are met. That’s me being a businessman
and understanding my self-worth.

How his vision and goals have changed after stepping into greater
success

I think as the roads have gotten bigger, as my career has
gotten bigger, you understand that what you do should always lead to what you
want to do. Everything should help propel you to another level. So I think the
one thing that I realized is that, “Hey Kevin, right now you’re more than just
an actor and comedian, you’re a brand.”

And we should always protect the brand, because the ultimate
goal for me is to become a mogul. The ultimate goal is to make sure that my
family is set for life. That means understanding the business, keeping a level
head, and not being affected by anything. That means that being happy is a
priority, because when you’re happy it’s very hard for anyone to sway you in
another direction.

Negativity is the only thing that can pull you down. I make
sure that negativity is not even around me. My circle stays the same and the
people that are around me do nothing but make me better. 

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