Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart get ready to “Get Hard”

“Get Hard” is a film about a millionaire hedge fund manager (Ferrell) who is found guilty of fraud and will serve time in prison. In order to get ready for a life behind bars, he turns to Darnell (Hart) to help him “get hard.”

You would probably have to travel a very far distance to find someone who has not at least heard of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.

Ferrell has starred in a series of comedy classics. From “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” to “Step Brothers” and even “Elf,” he has proven himself to be the go to actor in comedy. Even outside of film and television, his popular and award-winning website Funnyordie.com, which he co-founded with frequent collaborator Adam McKay, has produced an enormous amount of viral hits including the classic “The Landlord.”

Hart is one of the hottest entertainers in the industry right now as his films, stand-up specials and even his BET television show (“Real Husbands of Hollywood”) are all highly successful. His recent feature credits include “Think Like a Man,” “About Last Night” and “Ride Along,” which grossed over $100 million at the box office.

With their huge successes and similar comedic styles, it’s a wonder why the two of them have yet to collaborate on anything together, but they will headline this week’s new release “Get Hard.” The film centers around a millionaire hedge fund manager (Ferrell) who is found guilty of fraud and will serve time in prison. In order to get ready for a life behind bars, he turns to Darnell (Hart) to help him “get hard,” even though Darnell himself has never been in trouble with the law.

The two comedic icons answered questions from college journalists all over the country this past weekend. Their answers vary from talking about the social issues in the film to even what comedy remake they’d like to star in.

Q: What’s a common misconception about the prison system that you learned and would like to clear up?

KH: That in jail they do use buckets to go number two.

WF: I don’t even know if there are any misconceptions about prison because I think we have so much information out there. It would probably be that there is a nice part of prison.

Q: Is there anything you guys learned from each other while working on the film? 

KH: The one thing I took away from Will is that his approach to his craft is very professional and very humble. He is a guy that really appreciates everything and is grounded. That is why he is in the position that he is in today.

WF: Yeah, I think Kevin and I share a similar philosophy in comedy. We obviously love to have a good time and are so thankful to be doing what we are doing professionally. At the same time, we try to stay grounded and work very hard.

Q: What was it like to work with your director Etan Coen, he’s had a lot of writing experience, but what was that like 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 [assistant director] and director of photography and all of the key department heads. So he was allowed to do what his strong point is, which is monitoring the comedy. It is a real benefit when you have a writer as strong as Etan feeding you extra jokes and that sort of thing.

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

Q: What made you on board for this movie? What made you interested in doing this?

WF: This was an idea that my friend and writing partner Adam McKay and I had for a long time. We kept talking about it so we kind of generated the idea from our company. As we started to figure out the casting for the film and who would be great to pair up with, the first name we started with was Kevin. We called him up and pitched him the idea and lucky for us he was into it. He helped right away with the development of the script and his character.

Q: With your experience on set of “Get Hard,” do you now feel that you are now hard enough to survive prison?

WF: I unfortunately do not think I am anymore qualified or confident that I would survive in prison. My best strategy would be to not go. 

Q: A lot of your movies like “Step Brothers” and “Ride Along” use improv and ad-libbing, so how much do you stick to what’s written on the page and how does that effect hitting the comedic punch-lines?

KH: When you have something that is really funny on the page, it is really hard to improv in the first place. You need a good foundation and we had a good foundation. From that foundation we felt that we could play in certain areas but only when we felt that we could elevate the scene. We always wanted to get what we had on the page because we felt that our writers did a great job and when the time permitted us to play and move around a bit, we did.

Q: You guys make a really good comedy duo, both physically and being smart comedians. We are in the age of remakes so if you guys had to team up again and remake any classic comedy, which one would you like to do?

KH: “Turner and Hooch.”

WF: Kevin’s answer is “Turner and Hooch,” which I believe is the one with Tom Hanks and the dog.

KH: Yeah, and if you think you’re playing Hooch you’re wrong. That’s my part, I want Hooch.

WF: What’s my choice? Remake of a classic comedy? Oh, “Kramer v.s Kramer.”

Q: Etan is responsible for writing some of the best comedies of the last 20 years, like “Idocracy” and “Tropic Thunder.” What was it about him that drew you in?

WF: Etan is obviously an established comedy writer here in Hollywood with a pretty good track record. I think he was in town and was on a short list of guys who were next in line to direct a feature. He had done short film that attracted some notice. When you talk to him about a script in terms of his articulation on story, he sounded like a director. I think that’s what gave us the confidence to want to work with him. Also, in a 1920s and 1930s way, he wore those old time director khaki pants, spoke through a bullhorn and used a riding crop so those things made him appear like a director.

Q: You guys brought the film to South by Southwest this year, and since this is a mainstream comedy at a festival that is usually devoted to smaller independent films, how was that atmosphere different than at other premieres?

KH: I think the atmosphere we had at South by Southwest was amazing. That was one of the most energetic theater crowds I’ve ever seen. Not only was the reception good but staying and watching the movie with them it was unreal and they laughed the whole way through. I think in Hollywood it’s different because it’s just what they are used to.

WF: Yeah, it’s the town industry so to speak. So when you take it out to the people, so to speak, that’s when you get an authentic reaction.

KH: I would hate to bad mouth Los Angeles, but it’s just better to have it with people who don’t normally get [premieres].

Q: So why is it important to have the ability to laugh at the serious social tensions you touch on in the film?

WF: As we explore our differences and get through the chatter you realize how similar we all are. Examining that through the filter of comedy we are able to point out how silly these attitudes are that seem to pop up from time to time.

Q: As you guys were preparing and getting ready for this movie, were there any prison or television shows that helped you guys get ready for these roles?

KH: For me I watched a lot of “M.A.S.K.” and “Sanford and Sons.” It just kind of put me in a position to come to set everyday and bring something to the table. I’m not sure the last time you watched “M.A.S.K.” but that’s a show.

WF: I watched a lot of shows on the Cooking Channel. It didn’t help me at all; in fact it was a total waste of time. If I had to do it over again I wouldn’t have watched those shows.

“Get Hard” opens nationwide this Friday and is rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material.