You know who Kevin Hart is even if you don’t know who Kevin Hart is.
He’s the guy who’s had bit parts in some of your favorite films over the years – Hart comes in a scene, drops some rather hilarious lines, exits and scenes later you’re still laughing. Up next, you’ll see him do more of the same in Little Fockers, which opens on Dec. 22nd.
He’ll be going line-for-line with Ben Stiller, and no doubt it’ll be one of the moments that comic film enthusiasts will recite over and over again — stalking him at airports, in the mall or at restaurants, telling him how he’s made them laugh.
“Oh, dude, it happens all the time,” Hart says chuckling. “All the time. It’s flattering.”
Here’s what else he had to say…
theGrio: Over the years, you’ve been in some big blockbuster films, but for only a scene or two. Yet, you completely steal it…
Kevin Hart: That is something that I’ve been blessed with. A lot of people look at small parts, or cameos and don’t want to do them, but I look at it as any opportunity is a great opportunity if you make the best of it. So those opportunities that I’ve had in those movies, where I’ve popped in for five minute scenes, I try to make the best of them and…when the next job comes along, I have something for them to talk about. So far I’ve done a great job of it and maintained a certain amount of heat around my career.
You’re right: some actors may shy away from doing cameo-after-cameo, but here you are again in Little Fockers, which opens this week. What made you want to do this?
The movies that I do have small parts in are huge movies and no matter what — let’s say that movie makes $50 million dollars, that means 40 million people saw it. And if you’re in that movie for four minutes or if you’re in that movie for 45 seconds, then you’re associated with what people would call a great movie. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about being successful and maintaining a certain level of success. The best way to be successful is to put yourself around successful people and successful things.
So when you do a movie like Little Fockers or The 40-Year-Old Virgin or even Death at a Funeral, are you adlibbing a lot? Does the director let you come on and do your thing?
I do quite a bit of improv. I’ve been lucky enough to get directors that feed off it … who let me play and let me find magic in bits and pieces here and there. It was definitely fun and Ben Stiller’s the same way — he loves to improv, loves to feed off of one another, which is a great thing.
You’re also a stand-up comic; that must help with what you do on-screen, yes? What do you get out of standup that you don’t get when you do feature work?
It’s the energy. It’s the upfront, personal with your fans. When you’re doing film, you can have people that are your fans, but when the movie comes out they’re coming to see the movie, you know, whether you’re in it or not.
For me, I need to tour. I need to be on stage. That’s like my drug. That’s how I – like if I was on drugs, was on heroin or something, that would be my fix. I need it. I can’t go without it. Whether it’s small clubs, big theaters, little teeny coffee shops, whatever it is, it’s my life and it’s the one thing in my life that I’m extremely in love with so I don’t see myself ever turning away from it.
So when did you realize you were a funny guy?
When my mom said it. My mom don’t think nothing’s funny. My mom was very over religious at one point in time, so when she saw my jokes — because she never really comes to a comedy club or anything; I showed her a tape — and she saw it and said ‘I’m proud of you, you’re really funny.’ And for me, that was huge because I had never heard my mom say anything was funny. Making my mom laugh is like prying teeth from somebody, so to hear her say that just gave me the biggest boost ever.
After that, I was like ‘oh, I have to make mom happy all the time.’ It gave me something to work towards. And then my mom passed away five years ago, and it’s like I’ve got my little angel now. When I’m out doing my shows and getting a big laugh, it’s a good feeling knowing that before she passed away, that she was proud of her son and what he was doing and what he was accomplishing and where he’s on his way to.