Arts & Entertainment

The PHOENIX chats with Hart and Ferrell about upcoming movie

Phone interviews aren’t always exciting, but they certainly are if Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are on the other line. Promoting their new movie, Get Hard, the two actors participated in a phone interview with The Phoenix. In true comedic form, Ferrell and Hart joked throughout the interview about their experiences making the movie, which follows James King (Ferrell) as he enlists the help of Darnell Lewis (Hart) to prep him for time in prison.

“I unfortunately don’t feel any more qualified or any more confident that I would survive in prison,” said Ferrell, comparing himself to his character. “So my best strategy would be to…not go.”

Fortunately for Ferrell, it’s his character who has to go to prison after being sentenced to 10 years for embezzlement. While out on bond, James contacts Darnell to help him learn how to survive in prison (stereotypically assuming from Darnell’s race and low economic status that he has been in prison).

It’s eventually revealed, though, that Darnell has never been in prison and is only helping James for the money.

“This was an idea that my friend and writing partner Adam McKay [and I] have had for a long time,” Ferrell said. “So we kind of generated the idea from our company, and as we started digging into the casting, figuring out who would be great to pair up with … the first name we started with was Kevin’s.”

Hart was on board with the project right away and helped develop the script and his character.

Director Etan Cohen took on the movie, making it the first time he directed a feature-length film. Cohen has previously been a writer for other comedy movies such as Tropic Thunder (2008) and Men in Black 3 (2012).

“We got lucky; we got a guy who was a first-time director but then behind the camera soaked up a lot of knowledge,” said Hart.

The production team was able to assist Cohen and ultimately work well together, according to Hart and Ferrell.

“[It] was a great experience working with Etan; we surrounded him with a really good team … so he was allowed to just kind of do what his strong point is, which is monitoring the comedy,” Ferrell said.

The actor also mentioned that having Cohen, an established writer, directing the film was beneficial as it led to an increase in  the amount of jokes in the script.

“[It] gave us the confidence to want to work for [Cohen],” Ferrell said. “He also wore those old khaki director pants and spoke through a bullhorn and used a riding crop. So those things really made him appear like a director.”

Cohen also wrote the screenplay for Get Hard, along with writers Jay Martel and Ian Roberts. The script was a great base for the film, which meant that not a lot of improvisation was needed from the actors, said Hart.

“When you have something funny on the page to begin with, it’s kind of hard to improv in the first place,” Hart said. “We had a good foundation, and from that foundation we felt the need to play in certain areas.”

Ferrell and Hart are both seasoned comedians, but this is the first movie they worked on together. Both actors said they felt that they learned from each other throughout the production process.

“What I’ve taken from Will is his approach to his craft — very professional, very humble, a guy who really appreciates everything and is grounded,” Hart said. “I think that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in today.”

Although experienced, the actors still had to prepare for their respective roles. Hart said he watched the 1970s show Sanford and Son to get ready before heading to set. Ferrell had a different approach.

“I watched a lot of shows on the Cooking Channel and it didn’t help me at all,” Ferrell said. “It was a waste of time, and if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t have watched those shows.”

As for the future, the two actors are moving onto other movies: Ferrell is coming back as fashion designer Mugatu in Zoolander 2 and Hart is also returning for a sequel in Ride Along 2.

Get Hard premieres in theaters Friday, March 27.

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