A conversation with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart

How would you prepare for prison? That’s the dilemma James King (Will Ferrell) finds himself in, in the new film, “Get Hard.” King feels absolutely unprepared to his coming 10-year sentence after being convicted of tax evasion. He hires his friend, Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart)—whom James wrongly assumes has been to prison—to teach him how to survive life behind bars.

I had the opportunity to learn more about Ferrell’s and Hart’s thoughts on “Get Hard” in a conference call with other college reporters.

Question: Why is it important to have the ability to laugh at some of the serious social tensions you touch on in “Get Hard?”

Will Ferrell: I think it’s just a great way to … explore our differences; once you kind of get through the chatter, how silly we all are. And you kind of … examine through the filter of comedy. You’re just able to point out how silly these attitudes are that seem to pop up from time to time.

Kevin Hart: Well, I can’t say it better than that.

Q: What was it like working with your director, Etan Cohen, given that it was his first time directing?

WF: It was a great experience working with Etan. We surrounded him with a really good team in terms of first AD [assistant director] and director of photography and all the key department heads. So he was allowed to just do what his strong point is, which is monitoring the comedy, and it’s a real benefit when you get to have the writers strong as Etan feeding you extra jokes and that sort of thing.

KH: We got lucky. We got a guy who was a first-time director but he’s been behind the camera. I liked where he soaked up some knowledge. He was protected with a team of producers who knew what they were doing as well. And I think all in all, everyone helped each other, and Etan’s confidence grew as the movie progressed. And we got a final product because of it, so I take my hat off to him. He did a good job.

Q: Were there any prison movies or television shows that were inspiring you or anything that helped you prepare for the roles?

KH: For me yeah. I watched a lot of “Mask” and “Sanford and Son.” It kind of put me in a position to where I [would come] into the set every day and not only work, but bring something to the table, and I don’t know the last time you watched “Mask,” but …

WF: I watched a lot of shows on the cooking channel. It didn’t help me at all. It was a waste of time, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have watched those shows.

Q: If you guys had to team up again and remake any classic comedy, which one would you like to do?

KH: “Turner & Hooch.”

WF: Kevin’s choice is “Turner & Hooch.”

KH: “Turner & Hooch” would be amazing.

WF: I believe that Tom Hanks was the dog, right?

KH: Yeah, and if you think you’re playing Hooch, you’re wrong.

WF: What would be my choice? Oh, remake of a classic comedy? “Kramer vs. Kramer.”