Kevin Hart on Bonding With NBA Players Over Dinner and His Friendship with The Rock
Kevin Hart recently partnered with Mountain Dew Kickstart, the brand's take on an energy drink, in conjunction with the release of two new flavors, Original Dew and Ultra Original Dew. As part of that partnership, Hart is launching the "Closer than Courtside" campaign, which will bring a Mountain Dew fan and a friend to the NBA playoffs to be Hart's "CourtSidekick." In honor of the partnership, Food & Wine talked with the comedian about his favorite childhood snack, his favorite courtside snack at NBA games, why he loves working with The Rock, and much more.
On his favorite childhood snack
"When I was a kid we drank these things called Hugs. In Philadelphia, PA, for 25 cents, we would buy them, and they came with little aluminum foil tops. The whole trick behind the Hugs was to not take off the entire aluminum foil tops. You would poke a hole in it because you wanted your Hug to last as long as possible. The drink is small but you wanted it to last for a long time. You would go the corner store, and get your chips and cookies and your Hugs, and that was your snack where I was from."
On what he eats at NBA games
"When I'm at the game, I'm a big chicken fingers guy. Fries and chicken fingers. You don’t want to go too messy when you’re sitting courtside. You don’t want that ball coming over to you and these players, playing too much and trying to knock your food over on purpose. There was one year when LeBron took my drink out of my hand and ran down the other side and gave it to Drake. He said he was sick of my mess."
On bonding with his NBA player friends
"We have winter dinner at a lot of cool places, but where we really, really get off is going over to each other’s houses. Chris Paul is a good friend of mine, and we used to do dinners at his house and his family would cook and it would be some of the best times. You can always go out, but those moments when we can just be comfortable in our environment are some of the best times."
On teaming up with Mountain Dew
"The partnership with Mountain Dew is one that makes sense. The goal at hand was to separate ourselves from the pack, and to do something that would stand out.
I said would only want to do it if its something that we can bring my personality to. I don’t want to fit into a cookie cutter situation. I want you guys to give me the opportunity to be myself, to bring my personality to the product to help elevate it. They said that’s why we want you. The drink goes along with me and my day-to-day. I put 14 hours into a day. There are moments when a refresher or a boost is necessary. It fits, it's not forced, it's authentic. This little happy, refreshing face of mine is the definition of what Kickstart is: Kevin Hart. It goes hand in hand."
On playing Mountain Dew in a movie
"The height would be the same. Within the height of Kevin Hart, you’re looking at a lot of pack. There’s a lot packed in the punch of what I am. You don’t change that."
"I have a voice that’s not irritating, but it’s loud enough to grab your attention. You don’t get annoyed, but you’re captivated by it. So the voice stays the same. The only thing I would change is my eye color. I would do a lighter green eye. Everything else about me can stay the same because I am the definition of [Mountain Dew Kickstart]. I just need green eyes, that’s it."
On his friendship with The Rock
"He’s a great guy. He’s an amazing talent, who gets it, works hard, and he’s adamant about climbing that ladder of success. When you get two people together who share the same views and that really want to become the best version of themselves within this acting business, you’re ultimately going to have a lot of success. I think that we’ve had that success because the relationship that you see off camera transfers to what’s on camera. We make projects that we feel are good for everyone. Coming back with Jumanji was a great opportunity to fulfill that goal of making a movie for everyone."
This interview has been condensed for length.