Odd cou­ple

Hart, Cranston form un­likely friend­ship in The Up­side

The Sudbury Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - MARK DANIELL Twit­ter: @markhdaniell [email protected]­media.com

Kevin Hart is start­ing 2019 on the right note.

After an up­roar last month over past ho­mo­pho­bic tweets that led to him ex­it­ing as Academy Awards host, the 39-year-old comic is kick­ing off the New Year by co-star­ring along­side Bryan Cranston in the feel-good dram­edy The Up­side.

Based on the 2011 French­language hit The In­touch­ables that starred Fran­cois Cluzet and Omar Sy, the heart­warm­ing film finds Hart play­ing a parolee who strikes up an un­usual friend­ship with a par­a­lyzed bil­lion­aire (Cranston) after he is hired to be his care­giver. Both Hart and Cranston’s char­ac­ters are at the end of their rope, but their bond helps them get a new out­look on life.

“The thing about these two char­ac­ters is that they’re both dam­aged to a point where they don’t know what the so­lu­tion is,” Cranston, 62, says in a joint call with Hart from New York City. “But the other char­ac­ter, un­be­knownst to them, of­fers a way out of their cur­rent con­di­tion. It gives them both the hope of the pos­si­bil­ity of a brighter fu­ture.”

Q The 2011 orig­i­nal was a hit world­wide. Why do you think au­di­ences around the world con­nected with the story of Philippe and Driss? Hart: I’m go­ing to let Bryan take this an­swer be­cause you need to hear how amaz­ing Bryan is. Cranston: This was a great story in its orig­i­nal form 10 years ago or so. The way that these two men could be­come friends is beau­ti­fully scripted be­cause it’s not nat­u­ral. Men don’t seek out to be friends with other men; it just hap­pens. You’re in the same cir­cle and you have things in com­mon and maybe you get to­gether. You kind of have to read be­tween the lines when friends gather to see if it will hap­pen. You prod a lit­tle bit, but not too much. A man has to have his own time to come out of his cave and be able to say, ‘I’ve got some­thing on my mind.’ Women are much more in tune with one an­other and they can openly talk about their emo­tions. So this film catches you by sur­prise. Two very dif­fer­ent men, who meet un­der these un­usual cir­cum­stances, strictly by ac­ci­dent and there’s some­thing about them that oddly at­tracts the other and vice versa. They kind of tip­toe around each other and they’re not quite sure and then they fall into that po­si­tion of be­com­ing friends and it’s quite by ac­ci­dent.

Q You both have great chem­istry in this movie. How did you guys es­tab­lish the easy rap­port you have on­screen? Hart: There’s no sys­tem­atic ap­proach to bond­ing. You ei­ther hit it off or don’t. You ei­ther click with an in­di­vid­ual or you don’t. And when you do click, like we did, it’s ef­fort­less. In this par­tic­u­lar case, Bryan and I talked be­fore­hand and I think we both saw that there was an ea­ger­ness to take this project on. I think he saw how se­ri­ous I was about this and when we got to the set, and we started do­ing re­hearsals, we met each other’s ex­pec­ta­tions and then some. We were in this for the same rea­son and that was: to make a good movie.

Q Were you look­ing to do some­thing a bit more dra­matic? Hart: I think it was def­i­nitely time for me to look at some more se­ri­ous ma­te­rial. I have a lot of movies un­der my belt and I’ve had some box of­fice suc­cess. But you want to make sure that you’re al­ways chal­leng­ing your­self. It doesn’t mean you go crazy with the chal­lenge, but it’s good to take a step in a di­rec­tion that’s a lit­tle out of the norm. This was a project that wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily what I was used to do­ing, but that’s what at­tracted me to it. And when you’re in the com­pany of peo­ple like Bryan and Ni­cole (Kid­man), that’s amaz­ing com­pany to be in. So I jumped at that op­por­tu­nity.

Q The guys you play in this movie — Phillip and Dell — give each other a se­cond chance at life. Who’s the per­son who gave you the first chance in your ca­reer? Cranston: Well, the thing is, ev­ery­one needs a cham­pion. You get that from your fam­ily mem­bers or your wife, but ev­ery­one needs that. And along with that, you need some­one who’s go­ing to hold the door open for you. Hope­fully now, with Kevin and I in these po­si­tions, we will in turn do that for the next gen­er­a­tion of ac­tors. We’ll say, ‘C’mon in.’ For me, there were peo­ple like Lin­wood Boomer, who gave me a shot in (the TV se­ries) Mal­colm in the Mid­dle. I was told after­wards that Fox was con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing me in that role. I had four or five lines in the pi­lot and the dad role was some­thing they didn’t re­ally know what they wanted to do with it. But Lin­wood Boomer said, ‘No, I’m not re­plac­ing him.’ And you need that. You need some­one to step up and fall on the sword for you. But when that hap­pens, you need to be a cham­pion to them as well and prove that they made the right de­ci­sion in stick­ing with you and giv­ing you a shot. It’s all about get­ting the op­por­tu­nity and then cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­ni­ties for the younger gen­er­a­tion, and that in­cludes you, Kevin. Hart: Yes, I’m def­i­nitely part of the younger gen­er­a­tion (laughs).

Q So who gave you your first big chance? Hart: For me, it came from RocA-Fella pro­ducer Da­mon Dash and it was a movie called Pa­per Sol­diers. He saw me per­form at Caro­lines on Broad­way and they were put­ting to­gether that movie and he gave me a part. I’d also say Jessy Ter­rero, who put me in a movie called Soul Plane. Now both of these movies were boot­legged heav­ily, but these were op­por­tu­ni­ties that I will never for­get be­cause they helped me be able to book standup shows on a head­lin­ing level, which led to more roles.

Q There have been some rum­blings about a Breaking Bad se­quel movie. What did you think when you heard about that? Cranston: I said, ‘What? Re­ally?’ That’s what I’m still say­ing.

Q So you don’t have an idea of how they’re go­ing to res­ur­rect Wal­ter White? Cranston: I have no idea. I haven’t read a script or seen a script. So I’m just as cu­ri­ous about a se­quel as ev­ery­one else.

COUR­TESY OF STX­FILMS

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston star in The Up­side.

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