Comedian Kevin Hart is everywhere, all the time. At least it seems that way. If he's not in a movie, he's on a TV series. If he's not hosting an awards show, he's presenting at one. If he's not hitting the late-night talk show circuit, he's hosting the Justin Bieber Comedy Central roast. Not to mention his Saturday Night Live appearances, comedy tours, and attempts to go viral online.
How did this happen, seemingly overnight? As Hart is back in the spotlight now with Get Hard, his new movie starring Will Ferrell, we count the Kevin Hart Explosion in five steps:
September 2011: Hart starts to make waves with his stand-up tour film, Laugh at My Pain, which debuts in the box-office Top 10. By that point, he'd been working steadily in stand-up with hugely successful tours, along with Comedy Central specials and small roles in films like Scary Movie and The 40 Year Old Virgin. But it wasn't until Laugh at My Pain that the industry started to notice he had a gigantic fan base. It surprised everyone when it wound up earning $7 million, though it cost less than $1 million to make. That would be a flop for a major film, but for one that had a minimal budget and no promotion, it qualified as a hit. "We said, 'Hey, we know that we're going to do all right.' But we didn't know the magnitude of success that we were dealing with," Hart told Entertainment Weekly.
April 2012: Think Like a Man. Hart lands a starring gig in this hit film based on Steve Harvey's books. Like many movies marketed to an underserved or minority audience, it's dubbed a "surprise hit" and gets lots of attention, which solidifies his movie chops. He wins a BET Award for best actor and nabs a host spot on the MTV Video Music Awards that summer.
January 2013: BET's Real Husbands of Hollywood. Hart conquers TV when he creates, executive produces, and stars in BET's parody of Bravo-type shows. The premiere lands 4 million viewers and is almost immediately renewed, becoming one of BET's biggest breakout hits.
July 2013: The "Let Me Explain" stand-up tour film is a sensation, and everyone freaks out. If critics were surprised that Laugh at My Pain did well, it was nothing compared to the $17.5 million his second stand-up comedy film brought in over July 4 weekend, crushing Johnny Depp's The Lone Ranger. It grossed $32 million overall.
January 2014: Hart is officially a movie star. He started 2014 with Ride Along starring Ice Cube - and finally a movie aimed at a black audience is not labeled a "surprise hit" when it tops the box office. That kick-starts a huge year for Hart, leading to Think Like a Man Too, About Last Night, The Wedding Ringer and Top Five. And now Get Hard.