It was an extremely warm day on the set of Night School when Kevin Hart accomplished two professional firsts: wearing a chicken suit and getting beaten — excuse me, “whupped” — with a belt.
“First off, I did not beat him with the belt, I gave him a whupping,” corrects Tiffany Haddish. “It was a spanking, a whupping, an act of discipline, an act of love.” Adds Hart, “That was a real belt. She got me a few times.”
Co-written by Hart and directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip), Night School pairs two of Hollywood’s biggest comedic stars in Hart and Haddish. “It felt like a match made in heaven,” says Hart. “When somebody is that hot and you have the opportunity to attach yourself to them, you don’t let it pass by.”
The film, which Hart calls “Breakfast Club with adults,” centers on Teddy (Hart), a high school dropout who suddenly finds himself in need of a GED, leading him to the classroom of Carrie (Haddish). And after a frustrated Teddy leaves school in favor of working at a fast-food restaurant, where he wears a chicken suit and twirls a sign outside, she implements some of her most unorthodox teaching methods. When Carrie shows up to bring him back to class, Night School serves up its most painfully hilarious scene.
“Her reaction was one like a mother who has been dealing with her son’s dumb s— for too long,” notes Hart. The original plan was for Haddish to pull off Hart’s chicken suit, but then she got the idea to take out the belt instead. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to be yanking off some man’s clothes. I would much rather snatch him up and give him a spanking,'” Haddish says.
“You have to let comedic actors of their caliber loose,” shares Lee, who helped launch Haddish to stardom with Girls Trip. “You can’t shackle any of them. You have to give the freedom to do what’s on the page but also play with one another and push one another in scenes.”
The improvised scene resulted in Haddish landing a few hits on more than just her costar. “I was trying to whup him and I hit myself in the back and butt several times,” says Haddish, laughing. “I was like, damn, it’s true what my momma used to say: ‘This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.'”
Night School, which also stars Taran Killam and Rob Riggle, opens in theaters on Friday.