We all know that Kevin Hart is funny. Entertainment Weekly just proclaimed this week that he has reached A-List status, and he's been on quite a roll as of late, with his comedy special Laugh at My Pain and the documentary Let Me Explain, and with roles in films like Think Like a Man, The Five-Year Engagement, This Is the End, Grudge Match and Ride Along. But it is Regina Hall who will have people talking when she co-stars with Kevin Hart in the upcoming About Last Night (opening this Friday). Recently, both Kevin Hart and Regina Hall were in Detroit and I had a chance to speak to them both.
In town to promote About Last Night, I took part in a small round-table interview with Kevin, Regina and two other local journalists at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit. The film is a re-make and update of the popular 80s film of the same name, starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. It mainly focuses on the relationship between Danny and Debbie, portrayed by actors Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy, but Regina and Kevin steal the show as Joan and Bernie - Danny and Debbie's best friends - who enter into a tumultuous relationship of their own.
As you'll be able to tell in the interview the two seem extremely close in real life. How do I know this? Because of how poorly they treated each other, all seemingly for the fun of it. As this hilarious interview began, questions were rare and insults were many. But as they settled into the interview, both Kevin and Regina showed a deep respect for one another and revealed some insights into what it takes to be a comedian, and just how they coped with the many love scenes the film demanded.
Here is my interview with Kevin Hart and Regina Hall.
Tom Santilli: So what makes us care so much about your characters, Bernie and Joan, who start off as the comic relief but end up being the couple that we really end up caring about?
(Kevin Hart and Regina Hall are sharing a couch in an MGM Grande Hotel Room, and as Kevin begins to answer the question, he slides as far down and away from Regina as possible because she is chewing loudly).
Kevin Hart: Well, you’re dealing with complex…
Regina Hall: Wait, why’d you move all the way over there?
Kevin: Because you keep smackin’ that damn thing…
Regina: I’m not smackin’ anything, it just has this caramel aftertaste…
Kevin: It’s like a damn cow.
Regina: I’m just trying to get it out of my teeth.
Kevin (to me): Would you move down if someone was chewing like that in your ear?
(Regina then moves down to be as close to Kevin as possible, as Kevin does his best to ignore her and keep a straight face).
Kevin: I’m sorry, you guys. Now anyways, here’s why you root for these two, Bernie and Joan. First they’re telling a unique story that is…
Kevin: Universal, and that people can relate to. These people are not phony. We started off physical, off the bat. Right off the bat. We both have different takes…
Regina: We both aren’t looking for a relationship.
Kevin: We just want to have a good time. We end up growing feelings for each other. But neither of us wanted to admit that we were into each other. After we take ourselves on that journey…
Regina: With passion.
Kevin: That journey with passion, we end up falling in love. But that journey getting there, once again is so unique.
Regina: The interesting thing is that Joan and Bernie get together at times when (the main couple in the film) are not. Then we break up as soon as they are cemented. So it’s also the relationships that our friends have. We give them bad advice, because we’re upset.
Kevin: That’s a very good point.
Regina: That’s right.
Kevin: That’s a very good point, but Regina has always got to top me…
Regina: That’s right.
Kevin: That’s just what she does. Somewhat of an a**hole if you ask me.
Regina: It’s just that I can make a point much clearer and better. I guess that’s how he defines it.
Kevin: Just some people are jerks and some people aren’t.
Regina: I would never call you a jerk. You shouldn’t call yourself a jerk in front of all of these people.
Kevin: Can we just do the interview? Can we just do the interview?
Regina: All right, all right.
Interviewer: So About Last Night is a remake of the classic 80s film. What would you say is the biggest difference between your film and the original?
Regina: You know this one is based on the David Mamet play (Sexual Perversity in Chicago), so it’s closer to that. And a woman wrote this, so it has a different sort of edginess. We definitely earn the R-rating…
Kevin: We do a lot of f***ing.
Regina: I just want to apologize for him.
Kevin: There is just a lot of belly-bumpin’ up in here. It wasn’t like that in the original.
Regina: That is true. As Kevin has already explained so eloquently, so romantically, we get a lot more physical.
Kevin: Yes we do, yes we do.
Regina: They incorporate a lot of the technology of our time. Back then you didn’t have text messages, you couldn’t take pictures of your…
Kevin: In this film I sent her a dick pic.
Regina: He did.
Kevin: Which was cool. They didn’t let me shoot it though and I wanted to shoot it.
Regina: I thought they should have. You know, so that way my character knows. I said well sh**, what am I looking at?
Kevin: Let me shoot that black frame. You know what I’m talking about. The black hammer.
Regina: Well I’m not a nail, so I didn’t experience that. But I would like to see what he does with his black hammer.
Regina: I’ve seen it awake though. In the morning it rises.
Kevin: Yeah on set, you have to be there early sometimes. So I would just say Regina look, I’m coming in dangerous.
Regina: I would tell the director don’t you schedule us before 7:30. Because of this one over here (points to Kevin).
Interviewer: Well there was a ton of sex scenes between you and that had to be fun to shoot…
Regina: Fun for Kevin maybe.
Kevin: You know it was fun for me.
Interviewer: But was it difficult to keep a straight face with all of the crazy, over-the-top comedy, especially during those scenes?
Kevin: You know what, as you see we’re being very silly and loose right now, but we have fun. We find a certain level of joy in what we do. At that point when we are doing those scenes, I have respect for my female co-star here. As much fun as we’re having, I’m still in-between her legs during those moments and she’s half-naked on set. So you don’t want to draw these days out. It’s more about her being comfortable and us getting done what we need done in a timely fashion.
Regina: When we’re at work, there’s a certain number of scenes that need to get done, sometimes there are studio directors present. We may “break” during a scene, but when we do, we usually get right back to it. There are budgetary concerns as well.
Kevin: You don’t want to be doing the movie and be shooting a sex scene for some seven days (laughs). They’re going to come shut that movie down. That’s what we like to call porn (laughs).
Regina: We should be shooting in Chatsworth, not downtown (laughs).
Tom Santilli: You’ve both starred and co-starred in PG-13 movies as well as R-rated movies. Does that change how you approach a role and do you feel limited at all with one rating or the other? Or is that something that you don’t worry about and let the director and editor handle the content?
Regina: Well this script was written R. We knew what we were getting into.
Kevin: But yes, it does change it. If you look at me in Ride Along, even though I’m playing two different characters, my demeanor and my tone were not aggressive. From my language to how I’m speaking is not aggressive. With R, your tone can change because your language changes. So that’s why you see a difference in me as a man, from that to this. This is really my first time getting to play a grown man in a movie.
Regina: This is really a movie for adults. It’s an adult film.
Tom Santilli: Do you prefer one rating over the other?
Kevin: I love diversity. I love challenge and I love showing levels. So the more you can go back and forth and flip flop, and show different people that shows that you are well-deserving of whatever title they decide to give you in your craft. And that’s what I’m looking for right now, I’m looking for a title. And in order to get a title I need to put a lot of work in.
Regina: And really, if you’ve seen Think Like A Man, these characters feel different. They’re just different. So you may be seeing something that is visually similar, but by the time you watch this movie and get into this movie, you don’t feel like you’re watching Think Like A Man again. It’s tonally different, emotionally different.
Kevin: You actually don’t even think about it. They couldn’t be more far apart.
Regina: And I agree, we don’t want to do the same thing over and over again.
Interviewer: You both are so funny in this movie and Kevin, we know you as a very funny comedian. But wow, Regina, you stole a bunch of scenes in this movie! Did you both keep score at all?
Regina: (Laughs) There were some scenes that on paper, were just written for Joan to drive the scene forward. So sometimes it was already scripted. But no we didn’t score it. We just wanted to create that dynamic where women really do end up getting the last word in an argument.
Kevin: That is great though, because as much press as we’ve done on this film, I really do feel like it’s a coming out party for Regina. I really feel like Regina steals this movie. And it wasn’t a thing like one-upping one another. It was within the scenes, we would improvise and we would do things, but many times it made sense for me to just back down.
Regina: Thank you that’s a great compliment. I think what happens too is that people already know that Kevin is hilarious. The expectation from me was just different. So when you’re playing opposite someone like Kevin, people already know he is funny.
Kevin: There would be some days where we would be on set sitting there in a chair and we would look at each other sometimes and just be like man, we’re killin’ this sh**! (laughs) We knew at the time because it’s such a genuine thing. When you get that, it’s like a ping pong match. You’re hitting the ball but man, Regina is hitting it right back.
About Last Night opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, Feb 14.
Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.