Actor Kevin Hart attends the 'Grudge Match' screening benefiting the Tribeca Film Insititute at Ziegfeld Theater on December 16, 2013 in New York City

Actor Kevin Hart attends the ‘Grudge Match’ screening benefiting the Tribeca Film Insititute at Ziegfeld Theater on December 16, 2013 in New York City

*Kevin Hart learned some valuable lessons during the early part of his career, when the bright light of his successful climb burned out rather quickly.

“I was young – 23, 24 years old – and thrown into a realm of, ‘Dude, I got my own show! I’m the executive producer and writer! Oh my God, I’m starring in “Soul Plane!”’ And then, ‘This is over! I’m outta here!’”

Nearly a decade after his roller-coaster 2004, in which he booked his first starring role in a film (“Soul Plane”) and television series (ABC’s “The Big House”), Hart still finds himself with his own TV show (BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood”) and starring in feature films (“The Grudge Match” – opening Friday). …And again, he is considered hot property in Hollywood.

But this time, Hart says he plans to stay on top for the long haul.

“At the end of the day, that stuff didn’t work because I probably wasn’t prepared for it, mentally,” he said of the gigs early in his career. “I think now, I’m handling all the success amazingly well because I understand how fast it can go away.”

Below, Kevin explains why his career went sideways after 2004, and how he’s taken steps to ensure it won’t happen again.

“The Real Husbands of Hollywood” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET. “The Grudge Match” opens on Christmas Day. Watch the trailer below.