It was all smiles and hugs at the premiere of Screen Gems’ “The Wedding Ringer,” where Kevin Hart and the Sony execs (whose opinions about him were leaked) reunited at the Chinese Theatre, alongside fellow cast and crew, for the comedy that hits theaters January 16.
Sony’s Amy Pascal and Clint Culpepper had a friendly exchange on the red carpet with the comedian, whom Culpepper previously called a “whore” in email exchanges that were made public during the Sony hack. Immediately afterwards, Hart took to Instagram to defend himself, stating that he’d “brush the ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward.”
Now, at the mention of Culpepper’s name before being hurried along the red carpet, Hart reassured, “It’s all good.”
Concerning the leaked emails, the film’s director Jeremy Garelick said, “I haven’t really heard anything about it for a while. My opinion is that if anybody’s emails are looked at — any of our crap emails — we’d all be out of jobs, and we’d all be saying things [over which] we’d probably get divorced, and fired, and lose our friends, and all of that stuff. Both Kevin and Clint are all professionals and very, very smart, and they all know that.”
However, the Yale graduate mentioned that he did review his own email exchanges with Culpepper.
Drama is certainly not lacking in “The Wedding Ringer,” whose characters gossip about each other plenty in the midst of a wedding charade. But any tension during production didn’t last for long.
Hart “knows how to get under my skin in such a manner that undoes me, that makes me fall apart and laugh,” Josh Gad said of his co-star. “One day, we had to stop shooting…we were scolded for not being able to stop laughing.”
In the film, Gad (well known for “Frozen”) plays a socially awkward groom who lacks best friends to participate in his wedding party, so he enlists Hart’s character to help him hire groomsmen and impress his fiancé (played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting).
Just as in “The Big Bang Theory,” Cuoco-Sweeting’s character is engaged to a geeky sort of guy. Though, when asked which nerdy character she’d rather marry, she laughed. “Oh, Leonard. I gotta hang with Leonard! I’ve known him longer. It’s a longer relationship.”
This film’s story has been around for a while, too. Jay Lavender, who wrote the “The Wedding Ringer” when he was 26, noted how he was proud to see the film hit theaters at age 40 and is hopeful there’ll be a sequel. Garelick explained that the film took years to create because he was waiting for the right comedic cast.
Producer William Packer, who has produced four films featuring Hart, including “Think Like a Man” and “Ride Along,” praised the comedian, whom he expects to stay focused in the film industry. “I think he’s making some good choices,” Packer said. “He’s definitely having a moment. He’s a fresh talent. He’s doing something with a different perspective and point of view than anybody else.”
Packer, the first African-American producer to have seven films top box office charts during opening weekend, said, “Whether this movie is No. 1 or not, I’m excited about the reaction that audiences are having and are going to have. That’s the real validation.”
Next up, Hart — who didn’t get a callback after his first “SNL” auditions — will return to “Saturday Night Live” to host on Jan. 17.
“Not only did I not get it, I basically walked out of there feeling like I had no talent,” Hart said. “Little to my knowledge, years to come afterward, and I’m in a position to host ‘SNL’ and tell that story. Everything happens for a reason. If you don’t get something, don’t let it get you down. There’s something better for you. I’m a prime example…dreams come true.”
“The Wedding Ringer,” from Sony Pictures, opens in theaters worldwide on Jan. 16.
(Pictured: Jeremy Garelick, Josh Gad, Clint Culpepper, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Kevin Hart and William Packer)