“It’s a resurrection,” the comedian, 40, told Men’s Health for the magazine’s March cover story. “That’s the best way for me to put it. I feel like the other version of myself died in that moment and this new version was born to understand and to do better. Sometimes you’re not going to get it when you’re supposed to get it. But when it comes and that light bulb goes off, holy f–k.”
The Jumanji: The Next Level star has no memory of the crash, which also involved producer Jared Black and trainer Rebecca Broxterman. Black, 29, was driving Hart’s 1970 Plymouth Barracuda in Malibu on September 1 when the car swerved off Mulholland Highway and flipped into a ditch.
“I can’t tell you nothing about it. Isn’t that scary?” Hart revealed to the magazine. “The first thing I remember is being in the ambulance with my wife [Eniko Parrish].”
Ron “Boss” Everline, the actor’s longtime personal trainer, visited Hart in the hospital “right away” after the accident. “It was tough to see my friend in such a tough place,” he said. “He couldn’t move. Honestly, I was just glad that he was alive. But even then he seemed hopeful. He already had this mindset that he’d bounce back.”
The incident also rattled Hart’s famous friends. “I remember seeing the photos of that smashed-up car,” Jumanji costar Jack Black told Men’s Health. “My mind couldn’t help but go to the worst possible scenario. I was just praying that he’d walk again.”
Hart suffered three spinal fractures in the wreck and was told that he would have been paralyzed if those fractures had been a quarter centimeter in one direction. But he was determined to make a full recovery — and then some. “I’m not trying to get back to where I was before,” he explained. “I want to be better than before.”
Parrish, 35, has witnessed her husband’s resilience. “He didn’t allow the injury to defeat him,” she told the mag. “Because of his go-getter mentality, it never was a question whether recovery was going to be challenging.”
Dwayne Johnson, Hart’s good friend and frequent costar, said that the Night School actor’s “tremendous shape” before the accident helped his recovery. “His body composition and muscle memory are working in his favor,” Johnson, 47, observed.
Now that Hart is back in action, he’s reflecting on his time in the hospital. “It all boiled down to four walls. And in the space of those four walls was my wife and my brother, my kids and my friends, all on rotation,” he recalled. “And I got a chance to think about what matters, and it’s not fame. It’s not money. It’s not jewelry, cars, or watches. What matters are relationships. You know, the people that were helping me get up and out of the bed.”
He went on: “I’m on the road to becoming the best version of myself. And I thought I was on the right road, but something happened. F–k, I see now that I need to make a U-turn and go two blocks, then make a left. That’s the road I’m supposed to be on. So I still have many of the same goals, but now I’m just going down a different road to get there.”
Scroll down for more photos of Hart in the March issue of Men’s Health and more details about his crash and recovery.