The hilarious new buddy comedy Ride Along shows what can happen when a fast-talking guy wants the blessing of his hot-tempered girlfriend’s brother, before asking her to marry him. Thinking he’s found the perfect solution to get rid of high school security guard Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), Atlanta PD Detective James Payton (Ice Cube) insists that he accompany him on a ride along that he must survive, in order to prove that he’s worthy of Angela (Tika Sumpter), but what ensues are a series of wild adventures that lead them straight to the most notorious criminal in the city.
At the film’s press day, actor/comedian Kevin Hart spoke during this press conference about the mutual respect he and Ice Cube have for each other, how they were both focused on making the best movie possible, the funniest scene they shot together, how much they wanted the keep the film grounded, and what he enjoys about working with director Tim Story. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
KEVIN HART: First of all, there’s a mutual respect. When you come in and you’re aware of what a person has done, the level of excitement grows. Knowing Cube’s background, and knowing the comedic careers that he’s launched, and knowing that he’s going into producing and directing and writing, just as a man who has taken his career seriously and opened so many doors, I was excited. After meeting with him and talking and vibe-ing with him, and talking about the project and seeing his passion, I grew more excited. Once we got on set, we both had the same agenda, which was to knock this movie out of the damn park and make sure we both brought our A-game. It takes a true professional to let someone like myself come in and have the opportunity to be funny and riff, and Cube didn’t mind doing that. That’s a major thing. There are so many people who would try to battle with the funny. Cube did a great job of playing his lane and letting me do my thing, and I take my hat off to him for that. It’s a different level of respect I have for guys like that.
What do you think is the funniest scene you shot together?
HART: There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in the movie. My favorite has to be the warehouse, where I slapped Cube and stuck him with a knife. That was so fun! Those were some long days, and he just had to sit there in the chair. Cube didn’t have a lot of activity to do. It was just me, running around. But, there was this one moment where I stick him with the knife. We were really laughing out loud so much, during that take.
This movie is funny, but it also has some serious overtones, too. How much control did you have over those aspects?
HART: That was huge in our conversations, in the beginning, before we started the film. Cube was vocal in saying, “I want this movie to be different. I want you to be along with these guys and I want it to make sense.” Within the original script, those pieces were already there. It was just about tightening and making it our own. (Director) Tim Story did a good job of making sure we were all on the same page. The big thing he talked about was grounding it. I asked Tim every day to make sure that I wasn’t all over the place with my levels. I want to be funny, but it has to be a believable funny. Because if I’m just out there screaming with my hands up, I’ll look like a cartoon, at the end of the day. But, I feel that he tracked both of our characters. You see these vulnerable moments, and that elevates the material.
You’ve worked with Tim Story before, on Think Like A Man. How was this experience different?
HART: Tim is a different level of professional. The good thing about Tim is that he has such a great rapport with his actors. The most important thing for a director is being able to communicate. When you communicate comfortably, regardless of what you’re saying, it can always be processed. Even if it was him critiquing me, it came off so comfortable to where it was okay. It was such a great rapport that everybody was comfortable. You have to credit your director with that because, if he’s high strung, and you see a vein in the middle of his head every day, and he’s always taking his hat off and looking at the time, something ain’t right. But, we never had that feeling, ever.
This movie has so many moments where your character is looking for validation from Ice Cube’s character. When have you felt that you had something to prove, especially in Hollywood?
HART: I still don’t know if I’ve made it. The minute I think about it is the minute I go crazy. I don’t like addressing it. It’s a dream to me. That’s why I don’t go to sleep. I’m afraid I close my eyes. This shit will be over. My mom passed away six years ago, but she was the most supportive person, in the start of my career, the same way that my brother and my dad were like, “What the fuck are you doing?! This is stupid. The comedy thing is stupid.” But once the checks came in, my brother was like, “You alright!” Everything changed once the checks started coming in.
You have a great fight-or-flight moment when Ice Cube scares the hell out of you and you knock yourself out. Have you ever had any moments, in your own life, when you’ve been scared and had a reaction you were embarrassed by?
HART: Oh, yeah, I have tons of those. You think that’s the first time I’ve thrown a woman as cover? My rule is to save myself first. There was one incident at a movie theater where my girl got mad at these guys who were talking behind us. I never looked back there, but she was like, “Will you all just shut up!” And I just got up and moved three rows in front. She was like, “What are you doing?!” I was like, “You better get up here! I don’t play the fighting games.”
How was it to work Tika Sumpter?
HART: Tika’s great! Tika is going to do big things. She’s got such a good head on her shoulders, and she’s good. She shines on camera and looks amazing. I felt that the casting of her was perfect because you believe the relationship. Even the brother-sister relationship that she and James have, you believe. I don’t think they could have cast anyone better for that. Everything about her was perfect.
Ride Along opens in theaters on January 17th.