FilmInterview

Interview: Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart Talk ‘Get Hard’

Griffin Thomas Conlogue ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

This past weekend comedy kingpins Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart teamed up to give us the hilarious comedy Get Hard. Though many found the film offensive or filled with cheap humor, the two still found the way to bring out the laughs. Recently, Emertainment Monthly got the opportunity to join in on a conference call interview with the two stars, and here is what they had to say:

What is a common misconception about the prison system that you learned in the making of this film that you’d like to clear up?

Kevin Hart: That in jail they do use buckets sometimes to go number 2. [That’s been] cleared up.

Will Ferrell: Common misconception… Well I don’t even know if there are any misconceptions about prison. Cause I think we have so much information out there. The misconception would be that there is any nice part of prison.

As very successful comedians, is there anything you guys may have learned from one another while working on the film?

KH: The one thing I can say about taking from Will is his approach to his craft. Very professional, very humble, a guy who really appreciates everything and is grounded. And I think that’s why he’s in the position that he is today.

WF: I think Kevin and I kind of share the same philosophy in that we always like to have a good time and we’re so thankful to be doing what we are doing professionally. At the same time we try to stay grounded and work very hard.

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures
Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

What was it like working with director Etan Cohen, given that it was his first time directing?

WF: It was a great experience working with Etan. We surrounded him with a really good team in terms of a first AD and director of photography and all the key department heads. So he was allowed to kind of do what his strong point is which is monitoring the comedy. It’s a real benefit when you can have a writer as strong as Etan kind of feeding you extra jokes.

KH: From my side, we got lucky. We got a guy who was a first time director but has been behind the camera a lot to where he has soaked up some knowledge. He was protected with a team of producers who knew what they were doing as well. I think all in all everyone helped each other, and Etan’s confidence grew as the movie progressed. We got a final product because of it. I take my hat off to him, he did a great job.

What got you guys onboard for this movie? What interested you?

WF: Well, this was an idea that my friend and writing partner Adam McKay had for a long time. We kept talking about it and so we kind of generated the idea from our company. As we started digging into the casting, figuring out who would be great to pair up with, the first name we started with was Kevin’s. We called him up, pitched him the idea, and lucky for us he was into it and he helped right away with the script developing process and his character. That was kind of how the whole project came together.

With your experience on set with Get Hard’s production, Will, do you now feel that you are hard enough to survive in prison? If so, what role do you think you’d play in prison?

WF: I, unfortunately, don’t feel any more qualified or any more confident that I would survive in prison. My best strategy would be to not go. I don’t know what role I would provide. I would just have to act crazy to keep people away from me, but they’ve seen that before.

Kevin Hart in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures
Kevin Hart in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

A lot of your films use improv and ad-libbing, so how often do you guys stick to the script when and does that really matter when it comes to hitting comedic punch lines?

KH: If you don’t have something funny on page when you begin it is hard to improve in the first place. You need a foundation. We had a good foundation and from that foundation we felt the need to play in certain areas but only when we can elevate a scene. We always wanted to give what we had on page because we felt that our writers did a great job with doing it. When a time [allowed] to play then we did.

You guys obviously make a great comedy duo both physically and as very smart comedians, and we are in the age of remakes right now. So if you guys had to team up again and remake any classic comedy which one would you like to do?

KH: Turner and Hooch.

WF: Kevin’s choice is Turner and Hooch.

KH: Turner and Hooch would be amazing.

WF: Which, I believe, was Tom Hanks with a dog.

KH: That’s right. And if you think you’re playing Hooch then you’re wrong! That’s my part.

WF: What would be my choice… Oh! Kramer vs. Kramer.

So Etan is responsible for writing two of my favorite comedies of the last 20 years with Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder, and when I heard for his directorial debut he got to snag the two of you to come on board I really wanted to know what it was about him and his style and flair that drew you two to want to work with him? How was the experience unique in comparison to your past projects?

KH: That’s a great question.

WF: You’re right, Etan is obviously an established comedy writer here in Hollywood with a pretty great track record. I think he was just in town on the shortlist as one of those guys who was next in line to direct a feature. He had done a short film that had attracted some notice. When you talk to him about a script in terms of his articulation on story you can tell he sounded like he was a director. I think that’s what gave us the confidence to want to work with him. Plus he also in kind of a 1930’s kinda way always wore those old khaki director pants and spoke through a bull horn and used a riding crop. Those things really made him appear like a director.

Will Ferrell in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures
Will Ferrell in Get Hard. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

I have a question about South by Southwest. You brought the film there, a mainstream big time comedy, to a festival that is usually devoted to smaller, independent titles. So how did the atmosphere of that differ from what you normally get at premieres?

KH: I think the atmosphere we had at South by Southwest was amazing, first of all. It was one of the most energetic theater crowds that I’ve ever seen. Not only was the reception good, but me and Will’s introduction and staying and watching the movie with them was unreal. They laughed the whole way through. Hollywood is just different because it is what they are used to.

WF: It is the town industry, so to speak, so when you really take it amongst the people is when you get that authentic reaction.

KH: I would hate to say it, not that it is bad in Los Angeles, but it’s just better when you take it out to places that don’t normally get it. In LA it’s the norm, so it’s not like we’re not excited, but it’s just what we get.

Why is it good to have the ability to laugh about some of the serious social tensions you touch on in Get Hard?

WF: I think it’s just a great way to explore our difference, and once you get through all of the chatter you realize how similar we all are. Through examining through the filter of comedy you’re just able to point out how silly these attitudes are.

KH: Well, I can’t say it better than that.

When you were preparing and getting ready for this movie were there any prison movies or television shows that were inspiring you or getting you prepared for these roles?

KH: For me, yes. I watched a lot of MASK and Sanford and Son, which put me in a position where I was ready to come to set every day and not only work but bring something to the table. I don’t know the last time you watched MASK, but that’s a great show.

WF: I watched a lot of shows on the cooking channel. It didn’t help me at all, in fact it was totally a waste of time. In fact, if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have watched those shows.

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