Kevin Hart talks about Philadelphia, his new Netflix series and his future

Kevin Hart wants to avoid spoilers for twist-heavy new Netflix thriller True story, he therefore simplifies the gnarled story by saying that it all comes down to one essential question.

“How far would you go to protect what you have?” ” He asked. “Things you’ve worked (expletively) your whole life. How far would you go? “

Few people have gone further or worked harder than Hart, now king of a $ 200 million entertainment empire, who plays an improved version of himself in True story. His character is only known by the nickname Kid, and in True story he returned to Philadelphia to host promotional screenings for a new superhero film.

He is harassed by the disreputable older brother Carlton (Wesley Snipes), which leads to a night of debauchery that exposes Kid to very bad things and very bad people (there is a role for Titanic villainous Billy Zane). The seven-part Netflix series (uploading November 24) follows Kid and Carlton and their frenzied efforts to put things right under the relentless, scrutinizing gaze of fans and media who stalk Kid at every step.

“The excitement of the project is in The Watch [watching of the movie]. This is my opportunity to have people expect one thing and to walk away as a witness to another, ”said Hart, who recently sat down for an interview with Logan, his local HQ for a weekend. end loaded with promotional work, including appearances at the Eagles game on Sunday. and the Punch Line Philly Comedy Club. This is the kind of whirlwind we see in True story, whose scenario spans a few days in Philadelphia.

“Kid’s world is obviously similar to my world. We call it True story, which comes with expectations. But then things happen, and it becomes a spirit (freak). Is it Kevin, or is it Kid? I think people will think, wait, what am I looking at? And at some point when things get real, I think they’re going to be like, ‘Whoa, this guy is really playing,’ ”Hart said.

The film was written by Narcos producer Eric Newman (son of Randy), but was developed in conjunction with Hart, which encouraged a blurring of the line between Kid and Kevin.

The freedom that accompanies fiction has served as an odd sort of “therapy” for Hart, an unusually accommodating superstar (he’ll give you 40 minutes for an interview at a time when celebrities in his rarefied stratosphere will give you 4). If he gets frustrated with the process (“it’s the most exhausting (expletive) in the world,” he says), he’s good at keeping it bottled.

True story and Kid allowed him the vicarious thrill of losing him, to explode in a way he doesn’t in real life.

“Kid is not a bad guy, but he has the burden of high expectations, always on his back and on his knees. Things get intense, there is stress, but he performs well in this environment,” said Hart, who understands this aspect of the character very well.

It describes itself as a “hard drive”, with limited space that can be allocated to fans, the press, family and businesses. Sometimes there is a risk of system crash.

“You have to take a moment and take a step back when you realize that you are about to burst. With Kid, I didn’t have to do that. With Kid, I get to pop. he said.

True story portrays Philadelphia as a sort of purgatory for Kid – the longer he stays, the more problems he runs into (his suspicious and suspicious manager keeps saying, “We have to get out of Philly.”)

For Hart, this Philadelphia ambivalence is perhaps the most romanticized element of all. He still sees the city as a touchstone and swears he will come back again and again. Original plans for True story asked Hart to give a live show here as Kid, to be included in True story, but that was dropped by COVID. The film (mostly interiors) was shot on film sets in LA, and the many exterior shots of the city featured in True story were added to create a sense of belonging.

Hart’s sense of belonging is permanent, he said. Among the most important reasons he will always come back – to show the other kids of North Philadelphia what is possible.

“I feel like I have a different responsibility. I come from nothing and I’m not supposed to have anything. There are a lot of people who look like me who just think: this is it. I want to help change that narrative, ”he said.

“I can go back to North Philadelphia, to quote ‘the neighborhood.’ and look these kids in the eye and give them another story: that dreams are real and worth fulfilling. While understanding that it is difficult there and it might not get easier, but I am proof that if you stay true to reality things can happen. Philly? I MUST go back.

Hart’s own dreams of mastering Hollywood life are about to come true.

“I’m getting closer to my dream, my evergreen dream,” Hart said. He talks about building an entertainment business that is so sustainable and well run that he doesn’t have to be there to run it.

“It is not about the star attached to the name, but about the heritage. Something that can work at a high level with me or without me, but without me it will still be real, ”he said.

There was a time when Hart said he always came back to comedy, to stand-up (he used his time in Philly to prepare material for a new tour). But he is now in his 40s and his priorities have changed. He’s a producer, president and CEO of several production companies, and says he now enjoys the boardroom as much, if not more, than the stage, or a seat in front of the camera.

“I find I love the business more than anything,” said Hart, who has built a conglomerate that includes movies, TV, streaming, books, podcasts, radio, fashion, endorsements ( a new Chase credit card vacation ad has Alone at home story Catherine O’Hara at the airport looking for “Kevin” (only this time it’s Hart), documentaries and of course movies.

Being number one at the box office doesn’t make him pay that much anymore.

“I’m not going to put on weight. I’m not addicted to the result, nor to the idea that you have to stay on top. I have a lot of fun understanding (the business world) and helping others grow. One of my big ambitions is to create great platforms for the stars of tomorrow, ”said Hart.

The story of a guy from North Philadelphia doing well at THIS level, Hart said, provides a new kind of lesson.

“When you look at how we’re organized to lose, it’s no accident that when you go downtown you see the check-cashing place, the pager and pager store that doesn’t take credit, just cash, your liquor stores, your sneaker store, which isn’t culture, but other people, and you’re supposed to take your paycheck, cash it for huge fees and spending it on the spot, that’s how it’s set up, ”he said.

“What is needed is a new way. Here’s the bank, here’s the credit, here’s how to save and why it’s important. I’m 42 and didn’t hear about stocks, bonds, and portfolios until I was 32! I have a platform and a grandstand to stand on, and my example will be proof of a solution, and maybe I’ll run and maybe not, but my attempt will be seen.

The same will be true of several other films – he hasn’t given up on that.

He has already Borders (for director Eli Roth) in the can, and also Toronto man with Woody Harrelson, he is about to shoot a comedy called Me time, with Mark Wahlberg, and, yes, he’s trying to do a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Will Smith.

“Will is a good friend, and we talked about it, we’re just looking for what makes sense, when is the right time. If things line up, I think we will.

Hart stays overtime to finish his thoughts, then is pushed out of the room for more interviews. A journalist thanks him for his generous time.

“No problem man. It’s Philadelphia.”

About Shelley Hales

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