“I said to myself, ‘If this is what I’m gonna do as my profession, then let’s put the good and the bad out there and make the best of it,’” Kevin Hart says on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast as we reflect on his career-changing decision to make his comedy personal years ago. The 41-year-old, whom Chris Rock has called “the biggest stand-up comedian in the world,” and who is also one of its few remaining bankable movie stars — he has anchored or co-anchored an astounding 10 movies that opened at #1 at the box-office over the past decade — 2012’s Think Like A Man, 2014’s Ride Along, About Last Night and Think Like a Man Too, 2016’s Ride Along 2 and The Secret Life of Pets, 2018’s Night School and 2019’s The Upside, The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Jumanji: The Next Level — continues, “It’s a gift and a curse. In the beginning of my career, it served as a gift. And as I grew, it served as a gift. But right now, you sit ‘at the top of the mountain’ and then it serves as a curse. Because now I have so much out there, and you’re scrutinized or ridiculed for so much. But I’m okay with that. And the vest that I now have on is one that’s been hit up so many times those shots don’t hurt anymore, they don’t have the same impact.”
The highs and lows of Hart’s unlikely journey from north Philadelphia to the top of Hollywood are the subject of a fascinating six-episode, three-hour Netflix docuseries called Kevin Hart: Don’t Fuck This Up, which is Emmy-nominated for best unstructured reality program. The doc about the diminutive funnyman addresses his childhood with an absent and drug-addicted father and a religious and disciplinarian mother; the roots of his sense of humor and his standup career; years of early career disappointments, followed by a career recalibration for the ages (“I watched where other people made mistakes and I said, ‘I don’t want to make those same mistakes’”); and yes, the experience of, ahead of the 2019 Oscars, landing and then walking away from his dream job of hosting that ceremony after an uproar about decade-old tweets that many found offensive. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about all of the above, and much more.
Will there be a second season of Kevin Hart: Don’t Fuck This Up? “You know, I don’t plan on fucking up no time soon,” Hart cracks. “But that’s the thing about fucking up — you don’t know you’re gonna fuck up. It happens.”
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Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett and Norman Lear.