Q&A: Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart talk ‘Get Hard’

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Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell star in "Get Hard." (Photo courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES)

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell star in “Get Hard.” (Photo courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES)

After millionaire James King (Will Ferrell) is sentenced to San Quentin prison for charges of fraud, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) in order to “get hard” and prepare him for life behind bars. In a phone interview, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart talked about their first collaboration in the upcoming comedy “Get Hard.”

“Get Hard” opens everywhere March 27.

As two very successful comedians, is there anything you guys learned from one another while working on the film?

Kevin Hart:  The one thing I’ve taken from Will, is his approach to his craft. He’s very professional, very humble; he’s a guy that really appreciates everything. He’s grounded.

Will Ferrell: Yes, I think Kevin and I share the same philosophy in terms of, you know we like to have a good time, but we’re thankful for what we’re doing professionally. But at the same time we try and stay grounded and work hard.

What was it like working with director Etan Cohen, given it was his first time directing?

Will Ferrell: It was a great experience working with Etan. You know, we surrounded him with a really good team, in terms of First A.D. (Assistant Director) and Director of Photography. So he was allowed to do what his strong point is, which is monitoring the comedy. You know it’s a real benefit when you can have a writer as strong as Etan feeding you extra jokes.

Kevin Hart: From my side, I’ll pick off what Will said. We got lucky, we got a guy who had his first time directing, though he had been behind the camera a lot, so he soaked up his knowledge. He was protective of the team of producers who knew what they were doing as well. All in all, everyone helped each other. Etan’s confidence grew as the movie progressed and we got a final product because of it, so I tip my hat off to him. He did a good job.

How did he come about directing the film?

WF:  Yes, Etan is obviously an established comedy writer here in Hollywood, given his track record. And I think he was just in town on a short list of guys who were ready to direct a feature; he had done a short film that had attracted some notice. But when you talk to him about a script, in terms of his articulation on story, he sounded like he was a director. And I think that’s what kind of gave us the confidence to want to work with him.

Plus he also — in like 1920s or 1930s way — wore those old khaki director pants and spoke through a bullhorn, so those things really make him appear as a director.

What originally made you guys want to do this movie?

WF: Well this was an idea that my friend Adam McKay had for a long time, and we kept talking about it. So we kind of generated the idea from our company. And as we started digging into the casting, and we thought it would be really great to pair up with — well the first name we started with — Kevin. So we called him up, pitched him the idea, and lucky for us he was into it. He kind of helped right away in the development process, from the script to his character. That’s how it all kind of came together.

A lot of the past films for both of you, rely heavily on improve.  So I was wondering for this film, did you have to follow the script word for word, or was there room for ad-libbing?

KH: Well, there was something on every page of the script of course, but from that foundation there was room for us to move around. We had great writers on the film, and they left room for us to explore our characters and play around.

When you guys were preparing for the role, were there any prison movies or television shows that helped you prepare for the role?

KH: For me, yes. I watched a lot of “Mad” and “Sanford and Sons.” It really put me in the position where it got me ready for everyday.

WF: I watched a lot of shows on the cooking channel. It didn’t help me at all. It was actually just a waste of time and if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have watched those shows.

Why is it important to have the ability to laugh, at some of the important social tensions you guys touch on in “Get Hard”?

WF: I think it’s a great way to explore our differences, once you kind of get through the chatter we kind of realize how similar we all are. And you get that by examining through social comedy and you’re just able to point out how silly these attitudes are, that seem to pop up from time to time.

KH: Well I can’t say it better than that.

You could argue we’re currently in the age of remakes right now.  So as a comedy duo, if you guys could team up again and remake a classic comedy, which ones would you do?

KH: “Turner and Hooch!”

WF: Well, Kevin’s choice is “Turner and Hooch.”

KH: “Turner and Hooch!” It would be amazing!

WF: I believe that was Tom Hanks with a dog.

KH: You playing Hooch!

WF: Okay, I want Hooch. All right, my choice … oh remake of a classic comedy! “Kramer vs. Kramer!”