- RatedM18 /GenreComedy
A hedge-fund-manager-turned-white-collar-criminal gets schooled in prison life from a fake ex-con.
If it sounds a little absurd to you, you know you are in Will Ferrell territory.
In the new raunchy comedy film ‘Get Hard’, now showing in cinemas, the comedian-actor and Kevin Hart take on racial stereotypes with provocative humour.
The plot: a hapless millionaire James King (Ferrell) is charged with fraud and given 30 days to prepare for prison. He turns to Darnell (Hart), a car-wash entrepreneur, to get him ready for life behind bars.
James assumes Darnell, an African-American, is an ex-convict. Darnell, a middle-class family man with no hint of a criminal record, goes along with the assumption because he needs the money.
Ferrell said: “It’s really a movie of misconceptions, in the sense that Darnell assumes James is one way; James assume Darnell is one way; and we’re both totally wrong, and it's about the journey of discovering that and developing a friendship along the way.”
Ferrell spoke to inSing about the genesis of the movie and why Hart is the perfect actor for a screen partner.
How did ‘Get Hard’come about, and what was it about the story that made you want to do the movie?
This was an idea that my company (Gary Sanchez Productions) developed. I can’t even take credit for this, because it came from the genius mind of Adam McKay (co-producer and co-writer). We had been talking about an idea like this for years now. He always had the idea of: "Imagine, for whatever reasons, that in 30 days you were going to prison, how would you react? Every scenario would go through your mind: I’m going to flee the country… Okay, no, I can’t do that. I’m going to have to learn how to fight. I’m going to have to learn how to do this."
Will Ferrell (left) and Kevin Hart in 'Get Hard' | Photo: Warner Bros
So, I thought that would be a really funny premise. And the time came when we thought, "Should we pursue that idea? Let’s get a writer on that" and to figure out the scenario. In other words, it was something that we kind of built from the ground up, and the final piece was getting Kevin.
When we started going through the list of who it would be fun to work with, we were, like, "Kevin Hart. He’s so funny." We had never done anything with him. And it was one-stop shopping, fortunately, for all of us.
You have known Kevin Hart for a while, but what was it like to finally be on set working together?
We kind of just hit the ground running. I think we share a lot of the same sensibilities. Kevin wanted to put his ideas into the script, which we were so thankful for and encouraged. And we both approached it from a grounded kind of reality, and playing the characters real.
At the same time, there’s not a lot of ego between us, as long as the scene works... There were so many times when Kevin would say, "You know what you should say? This would be really funny", and he would offer me something, and vice versa. So that just makes it easy. There wasn’t any period of adjustment, really.
Kevin Hart (top) and Will Ferrell in 'Get Hard' | Photo: Warner Bros
Can you talk about the collaboration that went into the script and the movie? Did it happen at the script stage, or did director Etan Cohen encourage you to be spontaneous on set?
It’s kind of a five-headed monster. I mean, it happened during our rehearsal period. We would just sit there and read the script and come up with ideas on the spot, or bring up ideas that we had thought about, like, "Oh, I want to talk about this. Actually, this makes more sense if we do it this way…"
Then Etan was very diligent in that any time he was doing Kevin’s scenes, he had a bunch of alternative jokes he would throw out to Kevin and vice versa. So it’s constantly evolving throughout the whole process.
Was there ever a moment when one of you threw out a line and you just had to laugh?
I think it happened on day one.
The hardest scene I had to do was when Darnell converted my tennis court into the prison yard. And he recreates in one scene, in one shot, what it’s like to be in the yard and all the characters you’re going to meet: from the Hispanic gang leader to this person to that person, and he’s playing all the parts.
And it was just one take, so I couldn’t laugh during any of it. I didn’t know what he was going to say, and just had to react honestly and somehow keep track of all these characters. I didn’t know how he was keeping track, but he was having conversations with himself. That was amazing.
'Get Hard' opens 26 March 2015