Kevin Hart wants to change the idea that there are "black" movies.
"I think that's where the Kevin Hart Effect comes in," the 33-year-old actor/comedian says, laughing. "I feel like, right now, my audience is very much on both sides."
On one hand, "The support I get from black people is amazing," something he says has been true since his early days as a stand-up comedian. "But once the crossover effects happens and other people are aware of you, (success) becomes about great material."
Hart was in San Francisco promoting his latest film, "Think Like a Man Too," the sequel to the 2012 surprise hit "Think Like a Man." Unlike so many of his characters -- loud and armed to the teeth with quips and comebacks -- Hart is surprisingly engaging, warm and even serious when it comes to his career and how his movies are perceived.
Hart says "Think Like a Man Too" -- in which he reprises his role as the impulsive Cedric, who this time around has been tapped to be best man at a Las Vegas wedding -- wouldn't have been made if white audiences weren't starting to go to films with mostly black casts.
"You never hear people say, 'That's a white movie," Hart says, leaning forward to make his point. "You don't hear it. Right now, I think what's important to us is getting rid of the term 'black movie.' The best way to do it is to continue to make good movies that have so much success at the box office."
And that's what has happened over the past couple of years, he says.
"You look at '12 Years a Slave,' you look at 'The Best Man Holiday,' you look at 'Think Like a Man,' you look at 'About Last Night,' which I was in. You look at 'Ride Along' (in which Hart co-starred with Ice Cube). I mean, these are movies that are killing."
It's a funny coincidence that Hart appeared in the television show "Workaholics" two years ago. The term pretty much sums up his career since. So far this year, Hart has already starred in "Ride Along" and "About Last Night," as well as his current release. According to IMDb.com, he has no less than seven other projects in the works, extending into 2016, including "Finally Famous" (with Chris Rock), "Get Hard" (with Will Ferrell) and "Ride Along 2."
"Who works real hard and busts their (rear) their entire life and gets to the point of success to then take it easy?" says the divorced father of two. "That doesn't make sense to me. I put blood, sweat and tears to get to a point to be successful, and now that I am, the goal is to exceed the goals that I've already set for myself."
Hart was born in Philadelphia and was a shoe salesman when he started doing stand-up. In the early 2000s he alternated between doing TV and bit parts in films like "Along Came Polly," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Little Fockers." While he definitely made a name for himself in stand-up, his film career was slow but steady.
"Think Like a Man" helped establish Hart in bigger roles. Now he refuses to acknowledge his career has any kind of ceiling. He talks about doing what's right for his "brand."
"The way to do that is to keep pushing -- to outdo yourself," Hart says. "I'm giving my fans great content. I'm growing at the same time. The goal is to eventually become a mogul in the realm of entertainment. You see people like Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey and Jay Z, you know, people who have done groundbreaking things. ... I don't understand why I wouldn't want to take the same approach."
He got some firsthand motivation working with Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Alan Arkin in 2013's "Grudge Match." Though the film didn't score well with critics or audiences, Hart still speaks with a bit of awe in his voice at the experience.
"You have no idea. I laughed to myself during takes so many times, thinking, 'This is Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro,' " Hart says. "At what point did I get here? If you would've told me (years ago), 'You're gonna be working with these guys,' I would've been like, 'Yeah ... what?' I'm with these two legendary, hall of fame actors. It's mind-blowing. And Alan Arkin. Those guys treated me amazingly, like they welcomed me in and said so much positive stuff about me and where I could go and what I could do. It's amazing. It just (puts) a different kind of battery in my back."
Is the battery powerful enough to take Hart over oceans? He says he wants to find out.
"The next step for me is international," Hart says. "I want to break that water. I want to go over there and have my movies promoted over there the same way as anywhere else, but you have to prove to studios that you can be marketed to everyone."
Thanks to the Kevin Hart Effect, that might be inevitable.