Q&A With Kevin Hart

With two new movies on deck, the actor and comedian talks to us about work, parenting, and health.

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 15, 2013
From the WebMD Archives

You're the star of two upcoming comedies, About Last Night and Ride Along. How does it feel to be the leading man?

"Oh man, you know what? I'm just in a great place right now. My workload is definitely going up, and right now I'm at a place where my opportunities are growing and getting a lot bigger. It's really time for me to step up to the plate, rather than not being ready for the situation, not being prepared. It's time to step up to the challenge. I think thus far I have, and I'm going to continue to do that."

So, clearly you're in huge demand right now. What do you look for when considering a role?

"Right now, it's all about progression. You want to pick roles that will put you in a place where you can continue to grow. It's all about challenging yourself. You don't want to do the same thing over and over. It's one thing to be in a relationship movie, but it's something completely different to be in a relationship movie and be the guy in the relationship. Take About Last Night. I'd never been in a movie where I was the guy in the relationship, and that's one thing that attracted me to the role. It's a great movie, based on a great movie that people love, and to try and modernize it and do it right was a good thing for me."

When did you first discover you were funny?

"I've always been a funny guy, but when I went to community college and was working at the same time, I was known as the guy who would hold court. But it kind of hit me when some of my friends kept suggesting that I pursue comedy. They said, 'You're funny as hell.' You hear that kind of thing enough and eventually you're going to try it. When I did, I fell in love with it and knew it would be my career."

You've talked about your early experiences on stage, getting booed and dodging half-eaten chicken wings. What drove you to keep going? What makes comedy so important to you?

"That was early in my career. Comedy at that point was not yet something that I had really adapted to, but it was something that I would look at, something that I respected, something that I wanted to be good at, and I had never had anything like that in my life. I had never had anything that I put my all into. When I found comedy, I fell in love with comedy. I was, like, 'This is it.'"

How do you prepare to perform? Has that changed over the years?

"When I started there were rituals and prepping and meditation, but now I've been in it so long that I kind of have it down. It's a different kind of excitement for me now. It's fun. To get to do something that I love and make people laugh, to have fun getting to talk about what I want to talk about, there just isn't that pressure on me that there used to be."

What's the biggest difference from performing live and for the camera?

"Having a live audience, having that immediate feedback, hearing that laughter, that's what you live for, that's what you love the most -- hearing laughter, hearing that response. When you're live, when you hear that reaction, it is motivation not just to go on, but to keep hearing that laughter and to hear it grow. I don't think there's a better feeling in the world."

Is there anything that you won't joke about?

"I'm not big on joking about politics or on jokes pointed at the gay community. That's not my agenda. That's not what I strive to do. I leave those things alone. Things have really changed between where comedy is now and where it used to be."

You have two young children. Did either of them get the funny gene?

"My daughter, her personality just makes me laugh, but I'd say both my kids have got my funny gene."

Family is a favorite topic for you onstage. Is there any joke you've told about your kids that you hope they will never hear?

"No, no, everything that I have said comes from a funny place, and I think my kids will understand it as they grow older and respect it."

Has being a father changed how you view your work in any way? It's certainly provided a ton of material.

"No, it's just given me a different level of being focused, that's all."

How do you find the time to balance family life with the demands of your career?

"There is no time. You have to prioritize. You have to make time for what's important, and my kids are definitely important. Sometimes it takes almost killing yourself with multitasking and going above and beyond, but it's worth it because at the end of the day that hour or three hours that you are spending with them is time that you need both for you and for them."

What do you do to relax?

"To me, to relax is spending time with my kids or being in my house on a nice comfortable couch watching TV. Right now, I'm watching Ray Donovan and season 1 of Breaking Bad."

How do you stay physically fit?

"I have a group of guys that I hang out with and we all love physical fitness. We try to get in a workout 5 or 6 days a week. But if I have to do it early in the morning or late at night or take stuff with me to work and do it between sets, I do it. I do core exercises and some weights but not too much. I don't want to be the little strong guy with too many muscles who can't move. I just try to keep naturally fit."

Do you make a point to eat well?

"I'm big on chicken, from baked chicken, to grilled chicken to fried chicken, but I'm not a big proportion guy. I don't overdo it with my meals. I stay active. Whatever I put down, I burn it off."

What are your guilty pleasure foods?

"Buffalo wings."

Is there anything about your health that you wish you had known 10 to 15 years ago?

"No, I don't think so. I'm a pretty healthy guy with no problems."

What's your best health habit?


Your worst?

"Not being able to turn down Buffalo wings."

Who makes you laugh?

"Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, the Kings of Comedy, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Steve Martin, the list goes on and on."

What advice would you give someone who wants a career in comedy?

"My advice is simple: You can't be great at something if you're afraid to try. The beauty of standup comedy is that everybody thinks they're funny or wants to be funny, but very few have the balls to get up there and attempt to do it. The few that do can find success, but it takes time. Somewhere, some place on that road, that journey, to success, you're going to find things that keep you going, that keep you motivated, so just try hard."

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Kevin Hart, actor, comedian.

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