Kevin Hart Shares JUMANJI Hopes, Praises Comedy

Given the last year and the projects you've worked on, what have you learned most about yourself and your own ability as an actor?

I’ve grown. I’m 37 now. The more that you do, that more you mature, the more you understand the business, and... the more that you can do. I think now just from a production, from an actor, from a producer, writer, director standpoint, I just know all sides of the business. So there really isn’t any room for error with me. I just think the biggest thing is just being educated on all aspects of the genre that you work in. Whatever it is that you do, if you know it inside and out, it’s something that you can do forever. I think the best thing for me is just constantly going, constantly educating myself, to know more to do.

What was the biggest learning curve for this movie? What was the thing you had to put a little more energy into understanding?

You’re playing characters, and playing characters, grounding these characters is what makes the movie good. It’s not just about being funny. It’s about you believing the world that we’re creating. You hear a lot of people say, 'Oh, you’re just funny, or you’re just this, you’re just that.' You have to look at the levels of funny. You have some levels that are louder than others. Some that are just played at a lower level. Some that may be reactive. Some are proactive. It’s just different things that actually work for a film.

In this particular case, the movie doesn’t work if it just looks like a bunch of craziness. If you have no substance-- you’ve got a substance but you don’t believe the substance, you don’t believe the individuals that are playing the characters at hand. You believe us, and you believe that the people that go from here to here are turning into the new versions of themselves for a positive reason.

Can you talk a little bit about working with Jake Kasdan, and how his approach differs from other directors you’ve worked with?

Jake has been around for a long time. Jake has been a writer in the business for so long. You’re looking at a director that has successful movies and successful TV shows. So he’s no stranger to being behind the camera, he knows what he’s doing and he knows comedy. And more importantly, I think it’s very dope to see somebody confident with a budget like this. It’s a lot of pressure on his back. But every day he’s smiling, and he’s happy to be at work, and he’s not pulling his hair out, and he knows that he has great talent around him, and great DPs and assistant directors. He put a nice team together. I think they all are collaborating in a way that’s special, to where they can actually make something that people are going to love, and that will live on for years to come.

Are you excited about your kids seeing this movie?

My kids see every damn thing. Spoiled. Kids will probably see it, they'll come here and see it. They just love to see daddy do stuff. They’re more excited about animation. When I do animation, my kids get happy. So Secret Life of Pets 2 and Captain Underpants, that’s all they focus on. They don’t care about this s***.

You mentioned how much time was spent to get the script right. Was it focused on the story of the film, the message? You spoke about the outside world or the inside world. It feels like there’s a lot that you need to get right for what you’re going for.

There’s a lot of components. Studios are overprotective of information for absolutely no reason at all sometimes. I don’t know why they don’t want you all to know some stuff, I think it’s stupid. But, the purpose of the script was to balance two different worlds, and balancing these worlds make you understand why being a certain way over here isn’t right. And sometimes it takes taking a person out of their shell, and putting them in a different one for them to realize who they really are, and that’s what we had to do in this case. Then when they go back to the world that they were in, after realizing how they had to make changes and adapt in a new shell, it makes them respect this shell that they are in, in a completely different realm. So I’m trying to teeter, because they asked us not to say certain things, but that’s where all the work went on the script, was to make sure that there was a clear message, making sure that people will walk away and applaud what our attempt was.

What can you tell us about your avatar’s costume?

I wanted to just be different. I wanted to stand out. Not come off like a clown, but come off as a person who embraced this world of the jungle. This Jumanji-esque world. You get why this guy’s in there, from his backpack, to his short shorts, to all of the patches on his vest, and him having over 15 pockets, to having to answer for any and everything when it comes to the wild or when it comes to animals. That’s the guy that you technically want to be with when you’re in these situations, and you get why... his presence is felt. It’s not just about being funny. It’s about believing me. So the wardrobe definitely helped play a major part.

What I really love is my hat. My hat acts as like another version of my character. I’m tugging on the hat when I’m in disbelief, or the fact that I can’t run, and I always revert back to the hat. You all got me in this stupid ass hat. It’s just funny. It’s just something else to have. The backpack is bigger than me, but we never mention it. It just goes without being said. It’s a lot of cool quirks and things that I think people are really going to take away and love from it. All in all, I’m very fortunate, very lucky to be working with the cast that I’m working with. Very lucky to be doing a movie of this magnitude. I don’t take it for granted. And I show up and give 110% every day. I think people are going to appreciate it at the end.

NEXT: How The New JUMANJI Connects To The Original

Key Release Dates
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) release date: Dec 20, 2017
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