Kevin Hart is still riding a two-year career high. In 2011, his comedy film Laugh at My Pain broke independent film box office records and later this month the 32-year old stars in the highly anticipated romantic comedy ensemble Think Like A Man. Based on Steve Harvey’s New York Times bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man Hart emerges as the film’s comedic anchor. He stars as newly divorced Cedric, the long suffering guy in the movie’s band of brothers, which include Michael Ealy, Romany Malco, Terrence J and Jerry Ferrara. Think Like A Man's all-star female cast is rounded out by Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall.
BET.com chatted with Hart about his new movie, who makes him laugh and the funny way his fans greet him in the street.
You’re pretty hilarious in Think Like a Man. How much of your dialogue was scripted and how much did you adlib?
In comedy my strengths are improvisation. The great thing about [director] Tim Story is he allowed me to improv whenever I wanted to as long as I stayed within the character guidelines. Some of it was me and some of it was the script, but a lot of those funny moments were probably just me riffing and coming up with funny stuff.
The scenes with the guys felt natural and extremely real. In the downtime between takes what was the vibe like among the male stars?
On set it was kind of cool not only to come to work and be excited to work, but in between takes to actually have conversations, joke and laugh [with your costars]. It really made the days go by fast. People were not running into their trailers to close the door and be by themselves. Everybody wanted to literally still hang around on set. I think that made the movie and the scenes that much better, because we’re supposed to be friends in the film. It made us that much cooler and closer.
Who makes you laugh?
When I want to laugh I go to Heavenly Hart and Hendrix Kevin Hart. My kids are the funniest two human beings there are. I see myself in them and they’re at that age where the personality is unbelievable. My daughter has impressions that she does of me. My son is becoming me — just a silly, silly prankster guy.
Which three comedians do you find funniest?
Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and I would say it’s a tie between Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappelle. I wouldn’t be doing comedy if it wasn’t for Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy doing what he does — he broke down barriers for all of us. I put those guys on a pedestal because they changed comedy. All of the young standup comedians are able to walk through certain doors because these men opened those doors up.
Your standup concert Laugh at My Pain grossed over $7 million at the box office. Were you surprised at how well it did?
Of course I didn’t know what kind of success the film would have, but I knew people would like it. Before I put anything on film, I tour with it for a long time to get it where I want it and make sure it’s tight and where it’s at a point where it will appeal to everybody. With LAMP, it was me figuring out a way to outdo what I did for Seriously Funny. And when I did Seriously Funny I had to outdo what I did for I’m a Grown Little Man.
So how did you outdo yourself every time?
I had to challenge myself because most of the funny moments in life come from dark moments. But it takes a different type of person to find comedy in them. For me, it was talking about my Dad and the drugs, my Mom passing away and my relationship with my family and the start of my divorce. I had to talk about different things and when you do that, you put yourself in a place where you’re vulnerable and an audience loves to see vulnerability. Self-deprecating comedy is some of the best comedy and it transforms into honesty as well.
And now, because of that honesty, fans have a funny way of approaching you in public, right?
People feel like they know me because they’ve seen different levels of my life. When I go out I’m constantly stopped, but it’s not in the way of, "Holy s--t that’s Kevin Hart!" It’s always, "What’s up man? What’s going on?" People literally approach me like they see me everyday and then we talk. That’s the best feeling in the world for me because it means I’m doing the right thing.
Think Like a Man opens in theaters April 20.
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