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Kevin Hart discusses mature new role in 'About Last Night' roundtable

Courtesy of Carly Keyes

By Carly Keyes, Daily Arts Writer
Published February 9, 2014

A contemporary spin on the 1986 film of the same name — which was adapted from the 1974 play “Sexual Perversion in Chicago” by David Mamet — “About Last Night” follows two couples in Los Angeles as they explore the ups and downs of being in a committed relationship. This relatable romp in the world of dating arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Daily recently sat down with two of its stars: Kevin Hart, fresh off his hit movie “Ride Along,” plays the role of Bernie (originally Jim Belushi), a womanizing, sex-crazed player, and Regina Hall, of last year’s popular sequel “The Best Man Holiday,” plays Joan, (originally Elizabeth Perkins) Bernie’s lover who wants more than just physical benefits from their interaction.

“I think this movie does a good job showing relationships in two ways with Danny (Michael Ealy, who starred with Hart in 2012’s “Think Like a Man”) and Debbie (Joy Bryant of TV’s “Parenthood”), and then with Bernie and Joan,” Hart said. “You’re looking at two completely different perspectives on a relationship. They’re all eventually going to the same place, which is a place of love, but how they get there is so different and so complex.”

While Hall has previous experience reviving a classic (2005’s “The Honeymooners”), this is the first re-make for Hart, who described that taking on this character marks a paramount entry into new creative territory for him, too.

“(This movie) gave me a chance to be a grown man on camera” Hart said. “It’s the first time you get to see me interact with a woman and have levels of emotion from anger to passion. This is an adult role for me and a chance to be seen in a different light. That’s what you want is to always challenge yourself and grow as an actor.”

Hall weighed in on what it was like playing opposite of Hart as he explored a “leading man” character.

“It’s like I popped Kevin’s acting cherry,” she said. “I think we saw a different side of Kevin Hart. A lot more vulnerability and a serious side of Kevin’s acting that’s going to launch a whole new set of opportunities in terms of what people know that (he) can do.”

Hart went on to describe how this role not only gave him a chance to play a dynamic character, but the film’s R-rating gave him the opportunity to be a real, uncensored guy.

“It’s fun. You get to be filthy and cuss, and it’s okay,” Hart said. “It’s like somebody taking off the leash for a change. Not to say that all rated-R movies are better than PG movies because PG movies definitely serve a huge purpose. But when you make an adult comedy, you want to be different and edgy, so people walk out entertained but at the same time be able to relate to a real point of view and perspective on what the problems are that couples go through.”

Hall re-emphasized the authenticity that comes with this “freedom of speech” in movies.

“Well, when men are alone you already clearly talk R-rated,” she said.

Hart agrees, but he argues that women are no different.

“I heard Regina talkin’ about some guy’s dick the other day, and I don’t remember what she said, but it was something R-rated,” Hart said.

“I just said a prayer (for him),” Hall joked.

While Hart and Hall agreed that Leslye Headland wrote a great script, they firmly asserted their right to improvise with the material.

“The words on the page were there, but you can’t use me and not allow me to improv,” Hart said. “That’s cheating yourself of what I do. With anything you do, it’s very easy to be funny. As hard as people may think that is, being funny is not that hard.”

Hall cut Hart off, and she inserted the fact that it’s easy to be funny — when you’re a gifted comedian.

“Okay, that’s coming from Kevin Hart,” she said. “That’s like God saying, ‘Doing a miracle … (is easy).’”

“I’m saying you can write funny,” Hart said. “In other words, you have funny writers who can write [dialogue], and an actor’s job is to deliver. So, you look at Robert DeNiro who isn’t necessarily a comedian, but you can’t tell me in “Meet the Fockers” that Robert DeNiro wasn’t hilarious. Achieving what’s on the page is one thing, but we wanted to make sure our characters were grounded, (by using improv) because the more real they are the easier it is to relate to them.”

“About Last Night” promises a very real depiction of the complications of love — a heavy combination of drama and comedy. Discussing the fate of the couples, Hall spoke on the notion of a token “predictable” ending.

“(“About Last Night”) is still a romantic comedy,” she said. “I’m a girl. I still go to see my happy ending. Shit, I’m broken-up in real life. I can go home and see that when it don’t work out. I’ve mastered that scene.”