Kevin Hart Talks Sony Hack, Cosby And Race In Hollywood Reporter Cover Story
Kevin Hart has been in the headlines a lot lately, mainly because of the hacked Sony email where an exec called him a ho basically, for wanting more money to tweet about his projects. He talks about those comments as well as his upbringing, his thoughts on the Bill Cosby controversy and not being political or an angry black man.
We culled the best excerpts for you. Check them out below via The Hollywood Reporter
On his goals:
Forget any notions that Hart, 35, isn’t serious about his work. His aims are great, his ambitions unlimited. He wants to equal his heroes (Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock) and dwarf them by building an empire even larger than theirs.
“I want to be a mogul, like Oprah or Jay Z or Tyler Perry,” he says.
His 2012 tour, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, was seen in 10 countries and 80 cities, and sold more than 540,000 tickets, making it one of the most successful comedy tours to date (he also does many dozens of stand-up performances every year in smaller venues). Hart also sold out Madison Square Garden (only the sixth comedian ever to do so) and earned more than $1 million in Los Angeles on one evening alone. These tours are funded by Hart, too. “I invest in myself,” he says. “I spent $750,000 on [the 2011] Laugh at My Pain [tour], and it did $15 million. I spent $2.5 million on Let Me Explain, and it did $32 million. I’m about to spend maybe $4 million on this next one [What Next?], and the goal is to get to $100 million.”
On Being Called a “Ho” By Sony’s Clint Culpepper:
Hart swats away critiques, even when they come from his occasional boss, Sony’s Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper, who, referring to Hart’s desire to boost his $3 million salary, noted in a hacked email made public, “I’m not saying he’s a wh***, but he’s a wh***.”
Hart shot back on Instagram: “I worked very hard to get where I am today. I look at myself as a brand and because of that I will never allow myself to be taken advantage of. I OWN MY BRAND … I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND … which is why I’m able to brush ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward.”
A month after that volatile exchange, Hart takes a more muted view. “I’ve talked to him,” he says of Culpepper (who did not respond to a request for comment). “Clint called right after. It’s not like I wanted to challenge him — that’s just how he talks. He did [apologize], but there was no need. When you negotiate, you say whatever you say.” He adds: “Nothing affected me. It’s very hard to put me in a negative position, man. I’m happy. And I’ll continue to be happy.”
Happiness isn’t always the greatest source of laughter, of course, and one wonders whether Hart is being disingenuous when he says he has “no demon. I’m not an angry person. I left those years behind.”
On Social Issues:
Expletives pepper his routine, but he’s never salacious, never tawdry and never makes comments about women or gays that might offend some or even all. He seems almost genetically inoffensive, in fact, and avoids anything controversial, from the death of Eric Garner to Ferguson, Mo. “I’m not interested in politics,” he shrugs.
On Bill Cosby:
Downstairs, giant portraits of the comedians he most admires — Cosby, Rock, Murphy, Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappelle — line the walls. I ask if he’s thinking of getting rid of Cosby in the wake of allegations about the 77-year-old’s conduct. “I’m not going to take the picture down,” he says. “The picture serves a purpose for me. These were the men who built a legacy doing what they love to do, which is telling jokes.”
Does he think Cosby is guilty? “Right now, it’s a lot of speculation,” he says. “All I can do is just say my prayers, and my wishes go out to all of the women who are potentially involved. His personal life has nothing to do with me. I can’t control it. I will never try. It doesn’t stop me from being an admirer of his work. His work and his personal life are two separate things.”
On Discrimination In Hollywood:
He doesn’t dwell on prejudice, or wonder if he might have had more opportunity if he were white. “That’s not for me to say, because I’m not white,” he says.
He agrees with his mentor, Top Five co-star Rock, who lambasted the industry’s insistence that African-American performers “cross over” and find a white audience in a recent essay for THR. Hart insists he doesn’t get hung up on such things. (Said Rock: “If we’re going to just be honest and count dollars and seats and not look at skin color, Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world. If Kevin Hart is playing 40,000 seats in a night and Jon Stewart is playing 3,000, the fact that Jon Stewart’s 3,000 are white means Kevin has to cross over? That makes no sense.”)
“The point he was making was very valid,” says Hart. “It’s always about us crossing over. You never hear about it going the other way. You look at concerts and the touring industry, and the people who buy those tickets are urban crowds. It’s crazy the numbers I’ve done on tour: You’re talking about a guy who does 40,000 to 50,000 people a weekend. What he said, I agree with 110 percent.”
Still, he continues: “I don’t feed into the race game. I don’t give it that much thought. I never have and never will.”
“You know, a lot of people make it and then stop,” he says. “Why? When I look at Eddie Murphy, when I look at Will Smith, when I look at Denzel Washington, when I look at what all those people have achieved, why would I stop when you can keep going and keep achieving? There’s so much more that I can do. And I’m getting close. So why stop?”
Do you think Kevin Hart is winning right now because he plays it so safe? We couldn’t help but think of fellow comedian, and sometimes critic Mike Epps saying the wrong blacks are getting opportunities. Kevin isn’t an angry black man, he’s not political and he shies away from saying anything controversial. Is he playing it too safe? Not being interested in politics is one thing, but not speaking up on issues that directly effect so many people who are his audience seems kinda cold, nah?
Check out a video THR posted below: