Interview: Kevin Hart Leads the Crew in ‘Think Like a Man Too’

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CHICAGO – Sequels just need a dose of energy and creativity, and then they work. The cast of “Think Like a Man Too” – including Kevin Hart, Regina Hall and Terrence Jenkins – provide that energy, as the gang from the first film heads to Las Vegas for a competing bachelor and bachelorette parties. The audience wins that contest.

Kevin Hart is arguably one of the hottest performers of the moment. Fresh from his record breaking stand-up film of last year, he hit a trifecta in late 2013 and early 2014 with the films “Grudge Match,” “Ride Along” and “About Last Night.” His quick wit and energy also has the character of appreciation, for the collaborator and director Tim Story, and his co-stars Terrence Jenkins and Regina Hall.

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart in Chicago for ‘Think Like a Man Too,’ June 13, 2014
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Photo for HollywoodChicago.com

HollywoodChicago.com last encountered Regina Hall in this interview for “About Last Night,” in which she also co-starred with Hart. Terrence Jenkins, also known as Terrence J, is a reporter for the E! News Network, and is following the Greg Kinnear path from host to movie stardom. We sat down and chatted with all three performers, and photographer Joe Arce captured their images on the Red Carpet later that same day.

HollywoodChicago.com: ‘Think Like a Man Too’ is so loose and funny. How did director Tim Story manage to ‘herd the cats’ in Las Vegas and still maintain that loose of a set for you all to play in?

Kevin Hart: The first thing you have to know about Tim Story, is he has everyone’s respect. When you’re dealing with 13 different people, and 13 different personalities, it’s tough on a man. It’s very easy to work with him, because when he talked, we listened. We trusted him, and we know he’s looking out for us and only has our best interest in his hands. So it was very easy to control an environment that large when you know the guy and you’re comfortable with the guy. And after what he did with the first film, and what he turned it into…we were all in for the sequel.

HollywoodChicago.com: What is interesting about this film is that the women play as hard as the men. Regina, did the woman in the cast kind of agree to throw down to make the bachelorette party as awesome as we usually find the bachelor party to be? Was there a competition?

Regina Hall: Yes, there was a competition, especially between the characters of Lauren [Taraji P. Henson] and Cedric [Hart] in the movie. But when the ladies were on set doing the bachelorette scenes, we wondered what the guys were doing. We wanted to make our stuff pop as well. We didn’t want the movie to cut back to the girls and have the audience say, ‘this is boring…’ [laughs] We knew the guys were doing funny stuff, but we didn’t know what it was. We wanted to outdo them

HollywoodChicago.com: Well, arguably the best scene in the movie belongs to the ladies…

Hart: Yes, and there are moments in that scene where you broke out – and giving Wendi [McLendon-Covey] the rap part was great.

HollywoodChicago.com: Since the cast is mostly people of color, what traditions of the black experience in America is hidden in the partying that is going on in the film?

Hart: Listen, this is something I’ve been adamant about. When you sit down with the black cast of a film, it’s easy to go down the road that it’s a black or urban project. I think in this case – and in what I’ve done and what I will continue to do – is break that thought pattern.

When films start to exceed a certain number at the box office, an example being that the first ‘Think Like a Man’ did 90 million plus, it’s no longer a black movie, it’s appealing to everyone. One thing that never has had color is laughter – everyone loves to laugh. Our movies are comedies, and they deliver the laughs for everyone. We want to be in the category simply of ‘people who make good films and good comedies.’

Hall: Who you are as a group is what you bring to it. When I watch something like ‘Seinfeld,’ there is something about the Jewish culture that comes through, but I still get the laughs. It’s still identifiable because it appeals to humanity.

HollywoodChicago.com: What were you all allowed to do in the film – in an improvisation sense – with Keith Merryman and David A. Newman’s screenplay. Did Tim Story encourage improv on the set?

Terrence Jenkins: Absolutely. The script was the structure and foundation, we knew we were going to a certain place – a beginning, middle and ending – but when you get Kevin Hart, Gary Owen, Regina and Wendi Covey-McLendon, he gave them breathing room to put the comedy in. And then there is Michael Ealy, who is a surgeon with character and script – he was always checking the point in the story, checking continuity and checking that everything was making sense. When you merge all that together, it’s unstoppable.

With Gary Owen, no matter what take we were doing, he would say something ridiculous at the end. I would say 60-70% of that stuff stayed in the film.

Regina Hall
The Incomparable Regina Hall in Chicago for ‘Think Like a Man Too,’ June 13, 2014
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Photo for HollywoodChicago.com

Hart: In the first film, there was less room for what could say or what we could improvise, Gary really didn’t have his character in that one, but now he has his character down, he got another standard for it. The dynamic between his and Jerry’s [Ferrara] character was really dope. I loved how certain characters gravitated toward each other, a little more because their friendships became more important.

When you’re in a group of friends, there is always one person that you gravitate towards over the others. I loved how we were able to capture that – it grounds your film more, and the audience can say, ‘yo, that’s us.’

HollywoodChicago.com: Which person in the cast, besides yourselves, surprised you in the way they were willing to go comedically or just to keep everyone loose during filming?

Jenkins: It’s Wendi. The guys in the cast didn’t have many scenes with her, so we never saw her really cut loose, like the audience does. I love her bar scenes and the rolling arches joke, she’s just brilliant and funny.

Hart: Besides what I’m doing on screen, I pride myself in making a comfortable and comedic environment on the set.

Hall: I’m never comfortable around you. [laughs] I’m uncomfortable during this interview. See how far away on the couch I am from you.

Hart: When Regina comes in, the air is sucked out of the room. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: The co-stars of ‘About Last Night,’ still doing the movie, live and in person…

Hart: [continuing the routine by quoting Regina] ‘…this is not honey for my tea. I wanted a honey dew melon.’

Hall: That’s not true! [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: Kevin, you are one of hottest personalities in America today. What do you think has combined in the universe to make this happen all of a sudden?

Hart: I think that what I have that nobody has right now is that I found two guys, and we all share the same thing. Will Packer, Tim Story and myself – Will not as much – were all in movie jail at one point in our careers. I did ‘Soul Plane’ in 2004 and did smaller and smaller roles after that. I thought maybe the “Scary Movie” stuff would take off, but it didn’t. Tim was in director jail after ‘The Fantastic Four.’ It wasn’t a bad film, but it had too big a budget. Tim, Will and I got a chance to bond after that. And once we did ‘Think Like a Man.’ I knew I had the perfect collaborators…

Jenkins: How did you get ‘Think Like a Man’?

Hart: My stand-up career was taking off in 2011, and they came along and offered it to me. My answer to the original question is Will Packer and Tim Story, two guys that share my vision, and that vision became so much of who I am. We are a triangle. We’ve got four projects working right now, including ‘Ride Along 2.’

Jenkins: You guys share a room together, that’s a little weird. [laughs]

Hart: We call it a creative space.

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