Up all night with Kevin Hart
Last year Kevin Hart sold out two consecutive nights at New York's famed Madison Square Garden, a venue that most standup comedians aspire to at some point in their career.
For Hart, who took the arena's stage as part of his global Let Me Explain comedy tour, which also filled Los Angeles' Staples Center and London's O2 Arena, the occasion was so momentous that it deserved its own film. The comedian, along with directors Leslie Small and Tim Story, used the performance as the centerpiece of his new movie, "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain," which opens in theaters Wednesday.
Although largely a standup movie, "Let Me Explain" is framed with a fictional intro where Hart is inundated with a barrage of questions about his life and career all of which he determines to answer onstage at Madison Square Garden. This opening offers the comedian an opportunity to showcase the worldwide aspect of the Let Me Explain tour before eventually revealing his entire standup set.
The comedian, who has numerous feature films in the works and recently made a brief appearance in the apocalyptic comedy "This Is The End," spoke with CNN.com in a suite at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons the day of the movie's premiere. Hart, clad in sunglasses to veil his exhaustion, recounted the process of creating "Let Me Explain," why he got so emotional onstage at Madison Square Garden and how he might be the busiest person alive.
CNN: When you were filming your Let Me Explain comedy tour last year, was the intention always to make it into a feature film?
Kevin Hart: Yes. I wasn't sure of the direction I wanted to take the movie in, but I just knew I wanted to document everything I was doing that year because it was so much, especially the world tour aspect of it. It was just putting camera crews in place to capture absolutely everything that we did and at the end of it just put the pieces of the puzzle I had in my head together. It all came together well. But as we were going along I tracked it and I knew the pieces I had, and it was just tying them together.
CNN: How did you come up with the idea for how the movie is framed?
Hart: I need a segue into the documentary aspect of [the movie] and the best way to do that, I felt, was to jokingly address what's been happening to me for the past two years. Everybody coming up to me asking questions, and when I go to answer it they tell me what their answer is. You don't allow me to tell them what's going on you tell me what you think you know because you've heard things about me. It was a different way to open a standup film and I'm all about being different and trying to break ground with original ideas.
CNN: Do you legitimately feel like you have to explain yourself?
Hart: Yes and no. At the end of the day your fans are the people who support you in and out. And their opinions matter. As a celebrity you can try to say you don't care and say, "This is my life, I don't live for other people" all you want. But we don't. We have no obligation to do things for our fans, but my feeling is that we don't get to where we are or get what we get without the support of our fans. So if there's questions going around that your fans have because of things that they've heard, I think you do owe it to them to address it.
CNN: At the end of the movie you get really emotional about being in Madison Square Garden. What does it mean to you to perform in a venue like that?
Hart: You're looking at me achieving a goal that I didn't think was achievable. I'm sure everyone knows now that only a few have performed in Madison Square Garden. That list is so small. Now I'm on that list. I'm a part of a very small group, which is unbelievable. You relish in that moment for a second. When I did that onstage it choked me up because I genuinely thought about what I've accomplished and where I was and what I did to get here. And now that I'm here, the sky's the limit. I'm in love with this, with making people laugh. And the fact that I had this venue to do it in was crazy.
CNN: Now that you've conquered Madison Square Garden, do you have a new goal you're aiming to achieve? Is there even a bigger venue you could play?
Hart: I have no idea where you go next. None. No idea! I'm scared.
CNN: Do you approach standup in the same way you would approach a movie or TV role?
Hart: I don't approach it like it's a movie role. I genuinely love doing standup and I'm a comedian first, so for me what makes my standup special is the fact that I don't have to adapt or adjust. I am who I am. I appeal to everyone, hence in the movie doing a world tour. I'm not changing, I'm not adjusting my voice, I'm not changing my speed and the way that I talk. This is me. I'm actually funny. So I think the prep for that is me just enjoying what I do.
CNN: When you talk about your family and your kids in your standup, is that coming from a personal place?
Hart: Personal place. The motivation is wanting to put myself out there so people can see that I'm genuine and I'm real. What you see is what you get. It's not fake. I'm not trying to be someone else. I'm being myself.
CNN: What else do you have coming up beyond "Let Me Explain?"
Hart: I have like five movies coming out. Everything will be out in 2014 and 2015. I think I'm getting the opportunity to play the kind of character I'm interested in now. The movie "Ride Along," starring Ice Cube and myself, is an action comedy and I'm doing everything I ever wanted to do in the film. [I also have] "About Last Night," which is a remake of the original, starring Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Regina Hall and myself, and "Grudge Match," which stars Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. I'm about to do one with Will Ferrell [and] I'm about to do one with Seth Rogan. I'm sure I'm forgetting one.
CNN: And you were just cast in the new Chris Rock movie as well, right?
Hart: Yeah! My part, from what I understand, is I'm playing an assistant. I haven't read the newest draft that came in. But it's a funny reveal cameo he asked me to do.
CNN: What's the status of the second season of your TV show "Real Husbands of Hollywood?"
Hart: That will be in its third season. The second season starts premiering, I think, in September or October, and that's probably when we'll start shooting [the third season].
CNN: What does your average day look like?
Hart: No sleep! Right now I'm probably going on 27 hours awake. So my days are hectic. Once I'm done with this today I go to Conan O'Brien. After that I go to the premiere. I got to introduce the premiere. Then I get on a plane and I fly to Vegas. I land and I go straight to the set and I'm shooting until 4 a.m. It's ridiculously crazy. At some point I'm just going to shut down. I don't know when it's going to happen today, but someone's going to stop talking to me and I'm going to be asleep. Once I stop talking it's all over.