Premiering on the streaming platform on June 24, The Man From Toronto finds Hart as Teddy Nilson, a bumbling sales rep who can’t quite break into the fitness industry. In a worst-case scenario of weekend rental gone wrong, Teddy finds himself thrust into a world of espionage, assassination, and government surveillance, in a case of mistaken identity with the world’s deadliest assassin – known only as The Man from Toronto.
With these two veterans of comedy and action, there was naturally bound to be a level of improvisation that makes the script come alive. As Harrelson tells it, that was Hart’s go-to during filming.
“I don’t think I’ve laughed that much on a set in my life,” Harrelson shared.
“You have to leave room, of course, if I’m doing a comedy, for me to improv and amplify the material that’s already on-page,” Hart said of going off-script. “It’s never to go outside the box, it’s just to color it in a little more.”
Hart said it’s so much easier to get that extra improvised material with a veteran like Harrelson, who also knows how to go with the flow and pick up what’s placed in front of him in a scene. And of course, with Harrelson being no stranger to comedy himself, there was no shortage of laughter going in the opposite direction.
“There’s one scene where Woody and I are going to get in the cop car, and he has some sort of injury to the leg. He had to get back around the car and had a limp, and was coming to get in my face to tell me ‘don’t make me take my belt off,’ but he went with different variations,” Hart said, smiling while recalling the moment. “Just the physicality of it…we had a lot of fun in that scene.”
On top of throwing and catching comedic cues, the actors had a lot of physical demands to meet for the action portions of the movie. With several sweeping single-take shots and pinpoint-choreographed hand-to-hand fight scenes, it was tough to tell which stunts were done by the experts and which the actors took on themselves.
“I did everything…that wasn’t dangerous,” Harrelson laughed. “You had to figure there was an ellipse in there, but Derek Barnes, my stunt guy, was just phenomenal, so I was very lucky.”
“The action in this movie definitely moves the needle. There’s a lot of energy where it’s needed, and I think that’s the world of fun in an action-comedy,” Hart added. “Yes, you laugh, but then there are moments of ‘oh my god.’ Even in our fight scenes, they’re fun but there’s a raw, real dynamic to it as well. There’s a real possibility of danger, and trial and error.”
“For me, it was doing what I can, and I tried to push as far,” Hart said. “But there are some moments when you go ‘I’m not doing that sh*t. Get the stunt guy in here.'”
After back-to-back Netflix films featuring far more serious fare, The Man From Toronto is a return to more of the expected comedic form for Hart, who is still in the midst of producing and starring in films fulfilling his deal with the streaming platform.
“I’m really loving the producing side of the business. It’s the next stage for me in my career, but you’ve gotta tap into the creative that you identify with and that you enjoy, and I think that’s how you get the best material.”
The material Hart has been tackling in his Netflix original films have each appeared to have a nugget of truth from his real life, if not drawing direct inspiration from it. From the nurturing dad aspect in Fatherhood to his turn as a superstar comedian with lots to lose in True Story, Hart’s fans have been able to connect his personal journey with those of his characters. With The Man From Toronto, Hart’s love of working out and fitness shines at the center of the story’s action. Hart says it’s a conscious choice to give fans that easter egg of his own life.
“People are going to laugh at [it] because they know it’s a piece of you,” he said. “So the idea of the guy that loves fitness and he’s trying to create the next stage of fitness to sell but he’s not quite hitting the nail on the head, everybody knows that guy or that girl.”
“It’s a piece of fun and funny because I knew everybody would know it came from my love of fitness.”
The Man From Toronto premieres June 24 on Netflix.