A/V Room









Hitch - Kevin James Q&A

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Will's talked about, so how was the kiss for you?
Um, I'm sure Jada's a little bit worried at this point, I will say that. I'm not a gay man but I get it now; I get what all the hype is about that's for sure. I guess I'm the envy of a lot of women and men across the world. It wasn't that bad. It's weird, because I had a kiss with Amber Valletta and I had a kiss with Will and oddly enough I minted up more for Will, I was more worried about him.

Q. Which one required more takes?
Unfortunately, Will's. I was so mad at the director because we got Amber's kiss pretty quickly. And I was very pissed at him for that.

Q. There was obviously great chemistry between you and Will, not sexually, but in terms of the buddie movie aspect of Hitch?
I thought we'd get along well and would play well off each other but you don't know until you're actually doing it with someone. We were a little friendly before but not that much. But once we were in there we knew right away because we were having so much fun in the scenes and playing off each other.

Q. He gives the impression of being quite a generous performer even though he's a big, big star?
That's exactly it. To be able to give me a lot of the laughs in a lot of these scenes you've got to be secure in who you are, and that's one thing Will Smith is. He's the biggest movie star in the world and it just shows you, a lesser star would have been cutting down my lines as soon as they saw me getting some laughs, and really taken them for himself. But he wanted to make the film better and, you know what, to me he's the funniest thing in those scenes because his reactions are what make me laugh most.
And so playing off him was just the greatest opportunity; it just raises your game, it's like playing golf with Tiger Woods. When you're able to play at his level, he just brings you up, and he continually pushed me to be funnier, to do more in each scene and told me how better to attack the scene.

Q. How did the re-writes affect you?
Will and I would be working on scenes and re-writing them. The whole kissing scene was written that day, for instance. The sun was setting and we had nothing shot yet and I knew the executives from Sony were flying out and wanted to know what we'd shot that day, and we hadn't shot anything yet, so we had to get this quickly done. We wrote that whole scene. It was tough for Will because, if you notice, in that scene I react a lot, so I didn't have a lot to memorize, but Will had chunks of dialogue in that scene that he had to memorise. And you haven't got to just memorise it, you have to feel it to, you've got to remember what you're saying and feel what you're saying, so that was another credit to him that he got all that done.

Q. Have you ever encountered a female version of Albert in your dating days? If not, what's the worst date you've had?
I don't know if I've ever encountered the female version of me. As far as bad dates, I was always so gun-shy; I remember one time I was in a club with my buddies and stuff and I finally approached this woman that I wanted to ask to dance, and so finally did, and she said 'yes'. I was so happy, so we went up to the dancefloor, and it was one of those Djs who would spin one song into another, and I was out there for three songs not knowing that she had left after the first one [laughs]. My friends were just cracking up but I was just so into it, spinning around, thinking I'm so in with this girl. That was devastating for me.
But I think there are a lot of people who can relate to Albert and his problems.

Q. You met your wife on a blind date, didn't you?
I did. I did. When I loved out to LA and I got my television show, I bought my first house in California and I had to hire an interior decorator because I had no idea what I was doing, so she saw that I didn't have time to date and wasn't hooking up with anybody at all, so she set me up with this beautiful woman, saying 'she's funny and you guys would be great together'. And it turned out we were; we hit it off. I didn't have to perform.

Q. You have that great strength that women like in that you come across as naturally funny?
That's always been my defence mechanism growing up and in any situation - I've always had fun making people laugh. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but ultimately I don't think I would want to be with somebody who can't laugh and have fun.

Q. At school, were you the guy who was getting into trouble for creating comedy in class?
I really wasn't. I was more the shy guy. I was a jock. I was into sports and stuff. I was funny around my friends but I certainly wasn't the class clown.

Q. Where does it come from then?
. I didn't know what I wanted to do until I was in college. I went to college for sports management, which I didn't even know what that was at the time. I just knew I liked sports and management. But I was just kind of floundering my way through school and trying to fill up my schedule with classes, and I remember taking a public speaking class because someone told me it was easy - not thinking I would ever have to get up there and speak publicly! But I had to do it and thought 'oh my God', so prepared the speech and had some comedy in it and that was the first time that I kind of realised, when I talked to my class, that they'd laughed a little bit and I loved that feeling.
So when I went home that summer I never even went back to school. I just got involved in improv groups and stand-up and small community theatre plays. I just started performing any way I could and that evolved into stand-up and I never looked back.

Q. It takes a lot of courage to do stand-up. Did you have any horrendous experiences from audiences?
Oh yeah. I think you need to. My first time on-stage, I did really well. A lot of people would stock the room with friends and family but I wouldn't do that because I wanted a true reading of how I would do, and I did actually pretty well. I thought it was going to be easy. But then I went up the next night with the same material and just bombed. I remember feeling the sweat roll down to my lower back and you could literally hear ice melting - that's how bad I was doing.
And I've had plenty of experiences like that and it's just devastating, but the more you get over that, get used to it and not be afraid of that, the audience is like a dog, they can sense fear. They're not going to laugh unless they feel comfortable with you and know you feel comfortable with them. So once you can do that and you have that poise and you feel like you don't care, an audience will tend to go with you. That's what I've developed over the years.

Q. Did doing television help?
Oh yeah, as far as my stand-up for sure because, you know, in the beginning it was just going in front of a room who didn't know who you were, just with their arms folded. Now, they actually come out to see you.

Q. Did the sporting background come in useful in terms of getting pumped up beforehand and facing your fear?
A little bit, yeah. But you've just got to conquer it and my career has been a series of... going on the Dave Letterman show, I was very nervous about that because he was a guy I respected, and I didn't want to do that. It was the same with The Tonight Show. You're always nervous about that - going into TV, and then getting my first film, I was very nervous with Will even though I knew him. You want to perform well.

Q. How would you compare Will Smith to Ray Romano?
They're just different. Ray is a very funny stand-up and he was great on the sit-com. He's a very talented guy. Will is just multi-talented. Will is a different breed than all of us. I've never worked with or met anyone as talented as he is. He could do anything - if he wanted to do your job I think he would do it better than you; that's how frustrating he is. He concentrates on what he wants to do and does it so well that there's just no limitations to this guy. And he does everything. He started in music, he conquered that; he did a TV show and did that; he did film and is at the top of his film game. This guy is scary.

Q. How do you not be over-awed or irritated?
It is irritating because he is so good but he took me under his wing, for some reason, and really worked with me in this movie and made me better. So it was hard to be upset with what he was doing, or frustrated. When you get in the scene with him it just flows, it doesn't seem like you're acting anymore.

Q. Would your own wife identify with some of Albert's more clumsy characteristics?
Yeah, she knows how I am. But I don't hide. There's nothing to get frustrated about. I'm married, game over. I've won, it's good. That's the thing. In the dating thing, you've got to put up this front of who you think you should be and acting differently; my wife knows me - if I don't get mustard on my shirt then something's wrong.

Q. You're now at a point where doors are beginning to open up all over the place. How does TV manifest itself in terms of your celebrity - when people see you at your local grocery for instance?
In Los Angeles, it's a little different than anywhere else because they get so used to it there. When I go to other cities in the States, it's more of a big event when they see you. But they come right up to you like they know you. Will said, in fact, when he did TV people came up to him and said 'Will, Will, Will!'.
He then did Independence Day and he said people came up to him and began with 'Mr Smith'. It's such a bigger thing film. But, you know, I'm flattered anyway it comes - if they're thrilled to see me, then I'm excited to see them because I know there will come a day when it's no big deal to them.

Q. And it must be more flattering given the way it's come, given that you're risen through the ranks from your days as a stand-up?
Oh yeah and I still do stand-up all the time because I think there's no better experience to have; and on top of that to have sit-com, where you're actually performing in a play every week and having that experience of changing things. It's a great training ground.

Q. Would you like to move into more dramatic roles?
Absolutely. It's all about story. If I respond to it that way and I really want to do it, if it's good people to work with, in terms of directors and actors. But the most important thing is story.

Q. Do you think Albert will be a pin-up/role model for chunky guys?
I don't think it's going to sweep the nation, no. I think that some women like that. Some women like men who can be themselves; who are goofy and have flaws. That's ok. And I think all men have flaws, it's just how well you hide them.

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