Getty Images / Melissa Hebeler/E!
Getty Images / Melissa Hebeler/E!
Blink and you'll miss it; it being Kevin Hart's meteoric rise to fame, that is.
It probably seems like a given these days that Hart is part of the A-list. He's in multiple blockbusters every year, he stars in H&M ads alongside David Beckham, he hosts the MTV Movie Awards. But upon closer inspection, one quickly sees that, firstly, he's actually light years more successful than originally realized, and that it all happened far faster than normal.
But that's Kevin Hart: He's not normal. Let's take a second to take a deeper look at just what his fame entails. The most impressive thing about him is his Brand—with a Capital B. As an actor, he has his complete own genre of movie, much the same way that Melissa McCarthy or Liam Neeson have built their own very specific empires of one-woman comedy shows and I will find you, and I will kill you, respectively.
His breakout year—breakout on the big screen, that is—of 2014 saw him release three movies in a row with what the industry calls "outsize debuts" (that means, in a nutshell, over-performing ticket sales expectations the first weekend of release), one of which already has a sequel. (That would be Ride Along, which was followed by About Last Night and Think Like a Man Too).
His comedy concert films, which are basically just tapes of his stadium stand-up shows, release in theaters and make as much money as some "real" movies. And, perhaps most impressive, he was one of only two comedians to make Forbes' 2015 Celebrity 100 list of the highest-paid actors.
Oh, and the other guy? It was Jerry Seinfeld.
But it wasn't always like that. Hart got his start in the industry (and we mean the Industry in its truest sense: Movies) doing bit parts in all kinds of comedies. He played the guy making the documentary about Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly. He was the argumentative Smart Tech customer in The 40 Year Old Virgin. He was the wise-cracking nurse in Little Fockers. He was one of Emily Blunt's fellow psychology grad students in The Five-Year Engagement. He was the wacky neighbor on Modern Family.
You get the picture.
Meanwhile, Hart's stand up career was thriving. As he often tells it, he cut his teeth by entering local comedy competitions—which he always won, natch. Legend has it that those small-time appearances earned him a manager, and it was all downhill (or uphill, depending on how you see it) from there.
He began doing tried-and-true tours back in 2009, but it was 2011's show "Laugh at My Pain" that was the most major. We're sure you've watched it on Netflix.
Kevin was selling out stadiums, but in Hollywood he was still stuck in the dreaded Guest Spot trenches. A role in the 2012 ensemble comedy Think Like a Man was his first step to stardom, which basically skyrocketed straight to 2014 and the aforementioned breakout year. Ironically, by the time the press tour for the sequel Think Like a Man Too came around, he was arguably the most famous member of the cast. No offense to Jerry Ferrara and Adam Brody, of course.
This period cemented his knack for buddy comedies, making way for flicks like The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard, and this weekend's Central Intelligence.
Claire Folger/Warner Bros.
The slapstick cop film sees Hart starring alongside Dwayne Johnson, to which we reply that we don't understand how they've never been paired up before. The film takes the buddy premise to the max, as they are clearly the exact polar opposites of each other—and not just in size.
After Central Intelligence, Hart will be seen in yet another concert movie (this one's called What Now?) and The Secret Life of Pets, followed by the Jumanji remake (The Rock will also star, so it's all starting to make sense now) and a memoir in the works.
Now how did he get here? Well, if you ask Kevin Hart, it's by the sheer grace of his own hard work, talent and hustle. (Be prepared to hear that last term a lot, it's his operative phrase du jour.) All of his success is not for lack of bravado. Nobody has more confidence in Kevin Hart than Kevin Hart. It doesn't take detective work to surmise the source of this career straight from the horse's mouth.
His Twitter bio reads "Everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to do the work." He once told The Hollywood Reporter, "What do I do when I'm not working? I work" and "I want to be a mogul, like Oprah or Jay-Zor Tyler Perry." He answers the question of whether he'll ever take a break with "Why would I stop when you can keep going and keep achieving? There's so much more that I can do. So why stop?"
It's probably most easiest to react to statements like this with scoffs or annoyance, but then we remember that he's laughing all the way to the bank. And with most of our money, to boot.