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Kevin Hart Reflects On Hollywood Failures And How Success Came By Chance In An Airport

Kevin Hart as Fridge in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Success is never guaranteed, especially in Hollywood. Few stars know that better than comedian Kevin Hart, who worked in the entertainment business for years before he got his big break. The Philadelphia native, who got his start performing in amateur stand-up comedy competitions, had plenty of projects fall through before his star really began to shine. Sometimes it takes luck, sometimes it takes hard work, and sometimes it takes accidentally running into producer Will Packer at an airport. 

Kevin Hart recently appeared on an episode of the Showtime podcast All The Smoke, hosted by NBA stars Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. In between chatting about his Philly upbringing and his love for the NBA, Kevin Hart reflected on his slow rise to the top. According to the Jumanji: The Next Level star, he faced several disappointments early in his career: 

You get a deal, that’s supposed to be it. You get a TV show, TV show gets picked up, I’m about to be a star, here it comes. Show fucking gets dropped while I’m at the Upfronts… That moment’s over. Then Soul Plane comes. Soul Plane’s it, here it comes. Soul Plane gets bootlegged. Goddamn, what’s going on? He’s done, we’re not giving him any more chances. That was my starring movie, my starring TV show, both flopped. I went back to stand-up, grinded, stayed true to the role, my numbers got big.

Luckily for Kevin Hart, his efforts paid off. In a classic story of Hollywood discovery, Kevin Hart accidentally ran into film producer Will Packer at an airport - and it just so happened that Kevin Hart’s work in the comedy field had put him on Packer’s radar. Kevin Hart described the career-changing moment: 

I saw Will Packer at the airport. Once again, fucking accidental success. I just so happened to be coming while Will Packer is going. At the time Will Packer did Stomp The Yard. I believe that he did Takers… and he had another one, he had one more that he did... And he said, ’Dude I got a movie for you. I heard about all the stuff that you’re doing on the road and comedy, I got a movie called Think Like A Man. Keep in mind, I’ve been doing all these little guest spots in these movies, but nothing’s sticking, Along Came Polly, Scary Movie 3, 4, I’m just in shit. It’s not like I’m an actor in it, I’m just in it. I’m going back to comedy.

While it must have been tempting for Kevin Hart to stick to his comedy comfort zone, it’s lucky that he didn’t: the Will Packer-produced comedy Think Like a Man was a box-office hit and launched Kevin Hart into the Hollywood stratosphere. Of his long-awaited success, Kevin Hart said: 

Think Like A Man becomes the biggest success ever and I popped in the movie. I had a great cast and that cast set me up, sending me lobs. (This was in my height prime, I was about 5 foot 4 and a half when I was filming that movie. ) But, you know, we had a great cast… this movie, it blew… all of a sudden people think Kevin Hart’s the guy. I’ve been around for a long time, I didn’t just come out of nowhere, but now Will Packer says he has another movie for me.

With a resume full of hits and plenty of projects lined up for the future, it seems like Kevin Hart’s career was worth the wait. His upcoming films include Borderlands alongside Cate Blanchett and The Man from Toronto with Woody Harrelson and Kaley Cuoco. For more 2021 movie releases, check out CinemaBlend’s guide here

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.