Before taking in Super Bowl XLIX in — and lip-sync-battling Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show — Kevin Hart got his game on. The Ride Along star was the host of two separate Madden NFL 15 video game events leading up to the real gridiron match-up: He hosted Microsoft’s Xbox One “Game Before the Game” battle between New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman before serving as MC for Madden Bowl XXI.
We caught up with Hart at the Livewire nightclub before he took the stage to anoint a new Madden champion for this exclusive interview.
What role do video games play in your life?
Video games play a very important role. That’s what takes up all my time when I’m on the road. That’s what I do to occupy myself. Madden is something I’m serious about. It’s something me and my team take very seriously. Tournaments with big gambling pots, winner-take-all. That’s what we do. We’re gamers. It keeps me off the streets. It keeps me from chasing women.
Who’s on your Madden Ultimate Team?
I’ve got to go Tom Brady because he’s never let me down. His accuracy is amazing. I go Reggie Bush — he’s what I like to call a game buster. Occasionally, Reggie’s going to give you that glimpse of greatness in [Madden], whether it’s breaking tackles, whether it’s running back a punt return. He’s just a good guy to have. From a defensive perspective — I’ll throw one of those in there for you — Lawrence Taylor. LT is probably one of the greatest to do it. That’s a guy with the speed of a running back. As you can see, my knowledge for the game is very high. And that’s just a glimpse. You know who I should have put on there but didn’t? Walter Payton.
What’s next for you on the big screen?
The Wedding Ringer is in theaters now. I have a movie coming out in March called Get Hard, which stars Will Ferrell and myself. Ride Along 2 comes out in January 2016. I’ll do a movie with The Rock called Central Intelligence. I’m about to do a remake of the movie called Untouchable with Colin Firth this fall. We have Season Five of Real Husbands of Hollywood. I’m on tour with my “What Now Tour.” I’m busy. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on.
What was your first exposure to Playboy Magazine?
I think any kid is always going to be the same: Me stumbling upon my dad’s collection up under his mattress at the age of like 11. And once you find those things, you don’t go back. You become a fan for life. I got hooked at age 11 and I thank God to this day that I came across what I came across. It saved my life.
What movie scared you as a kid?
The Boegeyman — and I’m going to go with Candyman as well.
What was your first car?
A Pontiac Trans Am. I got it years after it was cool and my car basically used to break down every 30 miles. What I had to do was put water in the radiator and I would have jugs of water in my truck so I can go and radiate the car as much as possible.
What’s your pop culture blind spot?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. Damn it. I really can’t think about it. I don’t know. I can’t even say reality TV because I know about that stuff. That’s a tough one for me, and it’s very rare that I get stumped. I’m stumped on that one. I’m stumped.
What’s the first song you knew the words to?
“This Little Light of Mine.” It’s a church song. My mom used to make me go to church.
What’s your favorite mistake?
Trying to be perfect. That’s my favorite mistake.
What would your last meal be if you were in prison on death row?
I hate to fit the stereotype, but fried chicken. Fried chicken. That’s what I’m going to need.