Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart star in director Etan Cohen’s upcoming R-rated comedy, Get Hard. While on set to visit the production, our group of journalists had a chance to talk to Edwina Findley Dickerson, who stars as Hart’s character’s wife. She talked about her experience shooting the film, keeping a straight face while working with Ferrell and Hart, her on-screen family dynamics, and her reaction to reading the script. Our on-set interview with Findley Dickerson follows below.
How’s your experience been so far?
Edwina Findley Dickerson: Oh, it’s been fantastic. Working with these comedic geniuses, you know, it’s just, it’s really fun and also just really great work, you know. They’re just awesome, I was telling the director when I first read the script, I was just screaming and hollering, you know, like in my apartment in LA. My husband kept waking up like, “What is going on with you? Why are you screaming?” The script is just so hilarious and now that it’s all coming to life, it’s been a great experience.
Findley Dickerson: Oh God, yes. Yeah, it’s very difficult keeping a straight face with those two, especially the scene we’re working on now. At rehearsal, I have to get all my laughs out right now, so when they start rolling, I can shut it down and be the authoritarian that I am.
Do you get any laughs yourself that you get to deliver or are you more the straight man?
Findley Dickerson: I’m kind of a straight man to Kevin’s antics, but there is one scene that you’ll see in the movie where I sort of lose it and you’ll get to see that side of me.
Was the process that we just saw on set sort of before a scene, kind of going through everything and figuring out how to lay down and fix the problems. Is that the normal process?
Findley Dickerson: With comedy, you know, it’s sort of fluid in the sense that especially when you’re working with comedians too, and comedic writers, you know, different people kind of have various ideas and so we’ll do it as written and then they may kind of thrown in some alternate lines or myself or Kevin or Will, you know, may have some ideas of something we may want to try, so we’ll kind of throw that in and then in the editing room, they can decide what is the best of the best and put it all together.
Tell us about the tone of it a little bit. Are these characters that we’re supposed to like, or as you’re going through it, do you sort of, you know, judge them and maybe want them to suffer? [laughter]
Findley Dickerson: You know something, one thing that I really like about it is from the beginning, you’re introduced to both of their worlds, so you know, the top of it is “Tale of Two Cities” and so you’ve got this super duper duper rich successful guy who is Will, living in Bel Air. You’ve got us, who, you know, we’re working hard and we’re living in Crenshaw and you know, just trying to make ends meet. So, I think from the beginning, you have, I don’t want to say compassion, but you’re introduced to each person’s kind of intimate setting, so you get a chance to understand them and where they’re coming from, you know. So, I don’t think it’s so much a judgment thing as much as traveling on a journey with these characters, you know, and I think at the end of the day, you sort of root for both of them or all of us.
What’s your character’s take on Will and how Kevin is helping Will, and does that change as sort of the arc of the film?
Findley Dickerson: I think it’s crazy. My character thinks it’s absolutely nuts what’s going on, you know. I’m not for it, at all, but then the scene actually that we’re rehearsing right now, you know, is the first time that she gets to meet Will’s character face to face, you know, and I think begins to develop a compassion for him and also an understanding that, okay, something has to be done. We can’t take advantage of him anymore than he’s trying to take advantage of us.
Findley Dickerson: No , this is not the introduction. [Tell me how much I can say.] I’m like, how much can I say. Well, you meet my character and Darnell’s character, I think at the same time and that’s toward the beginning of the film, so you sort of come like I said from this very lavish world of Bel Air into the hood, you know, like central LA, and you come into our tiny apartment, you know, we’re pretty cramped in there. We’ve got a little daughter and my character is a nurse, and he’s you know, he has a car washing business and yeah, when you are introduced to me, you know, you’re seeing me in my scrubs and getting ready for work, and you know, you sort of see like a day in the life of the Lewis family, and then you start to go on that journey with us, how things change.
How much rehearsal time do you guys have before you started shooting?
Findley Dickerson: That’s a good question. I don’t know how much the guys had. As soon as I flew in, we got to work. So, if they had rehearsal time before, I don’t know about it.
Can you also talk a little bit about working with a young actress as your daughter. What’s the bonding experience like?
Findley Dickerson: You know what’s great? Both of us did independent films that were widely recognized at Sundance. I did a movie called Middle of Nowhere and she did a movie called Fruitvale Station. So, I was already familiar with her work. I used to do a show called The Wire, with Michael B Jordan, who played her father in that movie. So, when I first met her, I was like, “Your friend played your dad and now I get to play your mom!” I already felt a connection to her, because I’d already seen her work and I think she’s just a brilliant little actress, so just my process, I always try to connect with actors on a personal level, going to be playing family, because you have so little time to actually build that bond. Even with Kevin, before I got here, I watched the Oprah special that he did and it was so intimate, you know, and so I felt like I was getting to know other sides of him, outside of the comedic rockstar and you know, stand-up and those are the things that sort of help me in coming into this intimate place of playing his wife or playing her mom.
You also mentioned that the screenplay made you laugh a lot, but these are both guys who are very famous for their improv. How much has that affected…
Findley Dickerson: I definitely felt the pressure of it, you know, because I do a lot of drama, you know, and so, kind of crossing over to the comedy world, I definitely was like, doing private, you know, improv coaching, like I’ve got to get ready for these guys. I don’t know what to expect, but just in coming down, you know, they’ve just been so gracious and we’ve had the opportunity to play off of each other, and I find, obviously I’m doing a lot more scenes with Kevin and I find him to be very generous as far as the space for both of us to kind of interact and both of us to find things, and even in the script, I found also the writers and the director to be very considerate also, if something isn’t quite working, they listen to us, and they hear, you know, our voices and our comedic timing and they’re happy to incorporate those things as well, which has been nice.
Findley Dickerson: From the screenplay stage? Well, I wouldn’t say anything major. I did think it was important for us to find both the love, you know, of our relationship as well as you know, kind of the, you know, tough, “tell it like it is,” you know, this is nuts and I’m going to tell you, you know. So, I think, because with Will’s character, you know, he doesn’t have, he doesn’t really have a family unit, you know, and that’s a little bit of what comes out in this scene. He doesn’t come from that loving kind of nuclear environment, nucleus of an environment, we have a husband and a wife and a child, and he doesn’t have that, and so, even though he has a lot on the material side, he doesn’t necessarily have a lot on the love side, on the familial side, and so, it was important to us to not just have the conflict between Kevin and my character, but to also have the intimacy and the love between us too.
Get Hard opens on March 27th.