In the new romantic comedy About Last Night, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall’s explosive chemistry is pure date-night movie magic. The film is a contemporary take on the 1986 version with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. Starring Michael Ealy as Danny, originally played by Lowe; Joy Bryant as Moore’s Debbie; Kevin Hart as Bernie, originally played by James Belushi; and Regina Hall as Joan, originally played by Elizabeth Perkins, it brings to life the ups and downs of modern dating.
Philadelphia-born comedian Hart and Washington, D.C., native Hall are no strangers to going the extra mile to delight audiences on the big screen. Hall, fresh off her performance in last year’s The Best Man Holiday, is one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets. Hart, with the record-breaking January release of Ride Along, has cemented his status as a viable and profit-making movie star.
In About Last Night, which opens, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day, Hart and Hall show off their comedic and dramatic acting chops. The Root caught up with the comic duo to chat about their relationships dos and don’ts, the differences between women and men and how to get the most out of Valentine’s Day this year.
The Root: About Last Night is a modern twist on the original 1986 release. Aside from being entertaining, universally relatable and hilarious at times, how would you describe your versions of the characters Bernie and Joan?
Kevin Hart: Bernie is a complex individual. I play a man who is totally against the model of relationships and love. And I believe in getting in and getting out. Meaning, get what you can get out of a female physically and have a good time, a drink and do whatever and then move on to the next one.
And with that being said, of course it means he’s not a love-at-first-sight guy. So this kind of situation in the movie takes him by storm. The fact that he ends up falling for a female that he had no intentions of falling for, and the way that he fell for her, was completely blindsiding.
Regina Hall: Joan is independent, free-spirited, passionate and unconventional, but also really smart, professional, really emotional. And she is committed. When I say that, I mean she emotionally commits to whatever she is doing. When she meets Bernie, she is not looking for a relationship, but she certainly isn’t frightened of one like Bernie is. She’s ready to go, but Bernie is not ready to go. So of course, with that said, you get a lot of combustible moments.
TR: In the film, your two characters try to help guide their love-drunk friends, Danny and Debbie, through the minefield of doom, once the I-love-yous have been spoken. Do you truly believe that in a relationship, the person who says “I love you” first or cares more has already lost the war?
RH: I don’t believe that. As long as you can feel how the other person’s feeling, we can all tell that. I mean … when you say “I love you” to someone and they don’t love you back, I think you know.
KH: I agree, I agree. Me being the lover that I am, women just say it, and I just draw it out of them.
TR: In looking for love, what are the three most important traits that you look for in an ideal mate? Is physical attraction all that matters?
KH: Top three traits that I look for? Of course, humor. Personality, humor is a necessity. I love a person that can just be spontaneous within having a good time. That doesn’t mean physical off the [bat]. Spontaneous means pick up and go and be comfortable with just going.
And last but not least, for me, I’m big—real, real big—on my kids. My kids are everything. And now I’m in a serious relationship. But if I wasn’t, nobody would just be able to be around my kids. So you know how a person interacts with my kids would definitely be a large thing. So, liking kids, loving kids, something along the lines of how you are with kids. But that’s a hypothetical, because my lady is great with my kids.
RH: Humor is important. I love a man who’s thoughtful. This is going to sound strange, because of course I want to be a priority in a man’s life, but I want his work to come first. And I say that because a man who is happy in his work is a happier man at home. I like a man that’s able to say, “I can’t do that because I have to do this.” Obviously, I would want someone who is open to kids because I would still like to have a child. The clock is ticking.
TR: Men and women seem to agree that dating and relationships can sometimes be complicated to figure out. Are there rules or guidelines that women or men should follow to improve their dating styles?
KH: Um, I don’t do rules. Call me “the Rule Breaker.” No, you know what I mean. To each his own. But me, personally, I believe that what is going to happen is going to happen. You can’t set limitations on relationships and how things should be until you have reached a certain level in that relationship.
I think in the beginning, it’s all about figuring out one another. After you do figure each other out, you naturally know why you are together and why you are having a good time. So you don’t really want to break that.
RH: Call me “the Rule Maker.” I think men, in my opinion, are natural hunters. I think that subconsciously, a man likes a girl that gives him just a little bit of a hard way to go. You know what I mean? And I think you have to give him a little bit of a hard way to go in order for the man to go “Huh?” and really see if he’s interested.
If it’s too easy, men lose interest, so my thing is, ladies, don’t make it too easy. And I’m not saying that this is a game or that a time frame has to be used, like 10 dates or seven dates, but you kind of know what it is.
TR: Men and women’s perceptions of each other and what is taking place in a relationship rarely seem to be the same. What is your advice on avoiding some of these miscommunications or relationship mishaps when courting the opposite sex?
KH: When trying to date a man? In today’s society, some women are afraid to let a man be a man … So many women want to compromise a man’s position. At the end of the day, a man needs to feel like a man. Regardless of your financial situation compared to his, a man needs to feel like a man.
At the end of the day, when you put a man in a situation where you’re taking away his masculinity by challenging him on a regular basis—from “You ain’t got to do … , ” “I don’t need … ,” “I can do this on my own … ,” “I can do that … ”—then why do you have a man? You should make a man feel like he’s a provider, even if he’s not. That’s your job as a woman, in my opinion.
RH: I think honesty is key. Women really love someone honest. And I’m not talking about monogamy. I mean emotionally honest. I mean, if you care, and you’re into her, be emotionally honest. Because I think we as women respond to that. We respect a man who is emotionally honest, because then he’s not playing games emotionally. How something turns out is how something turns out. You know, if you give us the truth.
I love when a man acts like a man, you know? I like when a man is like, “Regina, sit your butt down.” Because every now and then, because I’m so independent, I need an alpha to come and remind me. What this does is it reminds you of what it is to be feminine.
And I do not want to say “a woman” because I don’t think it’s about gender specifics, but what it is to be in your “feminine.” Which is a powerful thing. And there’s also a certain amount of wisdom in that. Knowing when to listen, when to talk, and so I like when we have gender roles.
TR: What is the one tip for women to ensure that they have a successful Valentine’s Day?
KH: My No. 1 tip? Well, first and foremost, I would say, start your day off right by going to see About Last Night. And the reason being, because when you go see this film, you are buying yourself a good two to three hours of great conversation afterwards. This movie is a great conversation starter and date-night movie.
RH: I agree; that’s the only tip! That’s a happy Valentine’s Day. I can’t think of a better one.