Action movie fans, rejoice: Kevin Hart is here to save the blockbuster-less summer of 2020 with Die Hart. The Quibi series follows the comedian, playing himself, on a quest to become a leading-man action star, which requires him to attend Action Star School, run by the unhinged Ron Wilcox (John Travolta). To land the role of a lifetime, Hart must survive Wilcox, a series of intense action sequences, and a tough-minded rival student, Jordan King (Nathalie Emmanuel).
Making a show with numerous over-the-top action scenes after a major car accident might seem a little extreme, but that's just how Hart rolls. "I bounced back like a motherf—ing machine!" the comedian tells EW.
With Die Hart debuting Monday on Quibi, Hart and Emmanuel spoke to EW about the show's stunt work, the challenges of mixing action and comedy, and what's in store now that Hart has cemented his action star status.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, can you tell us about how this show developed? Is it true it was inspired by the What Now? prologue?
KEVIN HART: Yes, that was just me doing a little spoof, that was in more of the James Bond genre. We were waiting for the opportunity to try to figure out what the next version of that was, and we stumbled on this idea. So I'd been pitching it a while, and it was about finding the right writer and director, and we got that with Eric [Appel] and Tripper [Clancy]. And after we knocked it out on the page, we had the support of Quibi and their platform, and it became an amazing piece.
Nathalie, how did you end up coming on board?
NATHALIE EMMANUEL: I received an email about Die Hart [while] I was in Los Angeles and I was zipping around for meetings. And I had an hour between meetings, so I read it, and straightaway, on my way to my next meeting, I phoned my agent and was like, "We should make this happen." I was so excited. The script was so funny and so strong, and then it just kind of grew to this whole other level, just based on the talent of people that were involved. It was just such a fun, lovely thing to be a part of.
What kind of training did you both have to go through to pull off these crazy sequences on the show?
HART: We had an amazing team of stunt coordinators, and stuntmen, stuntwomen, and they all worked with Nathalie day in, day out, to get her to a place to where she felt comfortable. Now, me on the other hand, you're talking about a guy that has raw, authentic talent and comfort within the space of action and stunts. So it was more of a show-up-and-go thing for me. Not a lot of stretching, just more of a muscle memory, because, you know, I've been here before. So we had to be patient with Nathalie and just wait. It was a process.
EMMANUEL: [Laughs] You're so annoying.
HART: What are you talking about?
EMMANUEL: Our stunt coordinators were so amazing and incredible at teaching the choreography and everything. And I was so grateful for how my stunt double helped me and nurtured me in this process, but I really feel like I actually did a lot of it, too. I was learning choreography on the go at points, just because of how busy the schedule was. I feel like I stepped up and accepted the challenge.
What was the most challenging part of the show for each of you?
EMMANUEL: To be honest, the challenging thing for me was not laughing the whole time. That was just so hard. And it's funny because I've worked with some really funny people, and I'm often playing the person that's not supposed to be finding them funny. But it's really difficult when you're working with John and Kevin, who are both hilarious. It was very tough for me, and to be honest, I wasn't always successful at not laughing. We had a great time.
HART: I think the most challenging thing for me was holding back on some of the stunts, because there were a couple of things that I know I could have did, but I just said, "I don't want to," because of the schedule. There's one scene where I had to jump off of a roof and hang on the side, and I felt like it may have been better to fall down. So there was a little back and forth that I had with our creators, and people were afraid for me to get hurt, which I understood. But I think those are the big challenges for me. Not doing what I know I can, but doing what I should, if that makes sense.
Kevin, is this show a sign of things to come for you? Will you be moving into more leading man, Dwayne Johnson-type of roles in the future?
HART: Not Dwayne Johnson-type of stuff, because those things are stupid. My things are gonna be a lot better. I lined up like 13 projects already, all action. One of them is called This Building Ain't Mine. Another project is called I'm Not What You Think I Used To Be. It's about robots. There's another one called Spy I, Robot I. Smith Mr. And Mrs. Just working titles. Possible Mission. Don't Train My Dog, I Got This.