*EUR was front and center recently for “Grudge Match” with heavyweights Robert DeNiro (Billy “The Kid” McDonnen) and Stallone (Henry “Razor” Sharp) at the Battery Park Ritz Carlton. The man who orchestrated the one of a kind sexagenarian fisticuffs is Kevin Hart (Dante Slate, Jr.).
EUR asked him if he did any kind of research into boxing promotion and Hart said “no,” although he remembered having seen Don King as a kid.
With five other movies slated to come out next year, needless to say, Hart is red hot right now. Stallone says, “What really made this thing fly is the inspired casting of Kevin Hart. It really brought in a whole new demographic. It’s one thing to see grumpy old men fight. You bring in Kevin Hart and ‘wow.’” Working with the cast was just as exciting for Hart.
“I felt like a student of the game with the bunch of stars. From Sly to Bobby to Alan (Arkin) and Kim (Basinger), I was in great company. I was a kid in a candy store.”
“I got to work with people who have been doing this for a long time and have all had successful careers. For me, it was just about sitting back and watching how they work and appreciating how they approach the craft. It was just sitting back and learning, especially from Bob. He just goes in the corner and sits down until they say action, and he gets up. He’s the most quiet, laid-back, guy ever. So much time with these guys was a dream come true. It makes you feel good, when you’re in good company. That’s what ‘Grudge Match’ was to me.”
The bad blood on camera certainly didn’t affect the mood off-screen, Hart pointed out.
“You can’t have a great movie, if you don’t get along with people that you’re working with. Here, there was a cordial, nice, comfortable environment on the set. It wasn’t uptight. You didn’t feel like you couldn’t walk around certain people and say certain things and have conversations. That’s what I enjoy the most, the comfortable environment that we go to work in. I credit Pete (Segal), as well, as a director.”
In the film, Hart’s character is an ode to himself.
“I got a chance to play a jackass. I was a fast talking con artist, almost myself; very close to who I am. So it was a no-brainer for me. I got to cuss Sly, which is good. One take, I got to say ‘shit’ to his face. In my mind, I felt like I won a fight. I called my dad afterward and said, ‘I just said shit to Sylvester Stallone.’ It was good.”
However, there was one thing Hart was disappointed with.
“I was pissed off because I actually worked out and I never got to take my shirt off. That threw me for a loop. I was promised a semi-nude scene. It didn’t happen at all so I wasted my time, with my trainer in North Dakota.”
The two titans of boxing movies DeNiro (“Raging Bull”) and Stallone (“Rocky”) weighed in on their involvement in “Grudge Match.” Stallone had second thoughts about doing the project.
“Actually I had no intention of doing this. I have no credibility in this. This came from all the other gentlemen involved. It was something I thought was absurd. I thought, ‘No, I can’t do this. No one wants to see another boxing film, especially when you’re approaching 160 years old.’ Then Robert called me and we talked a lot about it and he convinced me that I was completely wrong.” DeNiro confirmed he was all for it. “I liked the idea of us doing it. And so that was it.”
The female in this testosterone driven flick, Kim Basinger, had no problems with the guys.
“I’m the only girl there so it was great. It was quite a ride because they work differently and they’re both hilarious. So I had a really great experience with the film. Stallone’s a jokester. DeNiro’s quiet and sneaky. He has different layers.”
Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected].