Kevin Hart's character selection
Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer was supposed to open big – it would have been his fourth #1 but as it stands, American Sniper is exceeding expectations and Paddington is being bolstered by fantastic reviews (like Sarah’s here).
So Kevin has to settle for a slim #2 which, if you’ve been following Kevin Hart, is not what he wants. He wants to be #1 every single time. He’s unabashedly ambitious and he works hard for every film, every tour, and every TV show (and he doesn’t mind being called a whore by Sony execs).
In a recent radio interview with The Breakfast Club, Kevin was asked about playing a gay character and he said he wouldn’t do it at this stage in his career:
No. Not because I have any ill will or disrespect, it's because I feel like I can't do it because I don't think...I'm gonna dive into that role 100 percent because of the insecurities of myself trying to that part...like what I think people are going to think while I'm trying to do this is going to stop me from playing that part the way I'm supposed to.
That’s the soundbite that’s getting attention, but the larger story is more interesting, particularly as he admits that he turned down the role of Alpa Chino in Tropic Thunder because the dialogue was too “flagrant.” I’m curious what draft of the script he read, because wasn’t Alpa Chino closeted for most of the film? And, at that point in his career, didn’t turning down a comedy with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. seem insane? (Also: awesome movie.)
He makes a point to say he respects, loves and appreciates the gay community, but turned it down because he’s too insecure in his ability to play a gay character (otherwise known as “a person”) and would be too affected by what he thought other people think of him playing a gay part. His reasoning is convoluted but he's so focused on his business that he’s not concerned with making any kind of social statement about anything, ever.
Kevin often says he is not out to shock or provoke, that he's completely PC, and if you read this THR interview, he really is. He has no interest in talking about race or class or homophobia. He is funny, but not controversial, and it is totally by design. He loves gay people, he loves women, he loves dogs (and probably cats, too). He loves everybody because he wants everybody to love him. Love is very good for business.
But, he does make a point of ensuring he has an “in case I want an award” caveat, going on to say he may one day get his box office fill and try to challenge himself to a more “artsy” project. So, it’s 2015 and playing a gay character is still perceived as a risk to a very successful, very self-aware and very in-demand actor. You think that’s just Kevin Hart? It’s not. It’s a problem with scripts, with actors, with agents, and with the studios. He's not the only one wearing that.