‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience’ Star Kevin Hart Shows Transformation into Gary Coleman

by Allison Hambrick

Live in Front of a Studio Audience star Kevin Hart shared a behind-the-scenes look at his take on Diff’rent Strokes’ Arnold Jackson, originally played by Gary Coleman. The special included both an episode of Diffrent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

Dressed as “Super Arnold,” Hart wears Coleman’s iconic A sweater and shiny blue cape in the set photo. The actor captioned the photo saying that he “had a blast” and appreciated the love.

Unsurprisingly, Hart was considered a standout by fans and critics alike. While The Facts of Life missed the mark according to some, NPR praised Hart, highlighting how the actor “wrung out every bit of physical comedy he could manage, pretending to struggle while climbing down from a bunk bed and copying Coleman’s distinctive gait.”

The cast for the Diff’rent Strokes portion of the special included Kevin Hart as Arnold, Damon Wayans as Willis, Ann Dowd as Mrs. Garrett, and Jon Lithgow as Mr. Drummond. The original series aired from 1978 to 1986. It featured two boys from Harlem being taken in by a wealthy widower.

In addition to Diff’rent Strokes, the special revisited The Facts of Life. The latter series aired from 1979 to 1988. It followed the lives of the students and housemother of an all-girls private school. This upcoming special revisits the sitcom with a new cast. The cast included Jennifer Aniston as Blair, Gabrielle Union as Tootie, Allison Tolman as Natalie, and Kathryn Hahn as Jo. Additionally, Ann Dowd played Mrs. Garrett in this segment as well.

Jennifer Aniston Shares Backstage Photos from Live in Front of a Studio Audience

Live in Front of a Studio Audience also featured appearances from guests ranging from Snoop Dogg and Will Arnett to the stars of the original series. For Diff’rent Strokes, original Willis actor Todd Bridges appeared. Also, The Facts of Life was represented by Lisa Welchel, Mindy Cohn, and Kim Fields.

In addition to Hart, another cast member posted to commemorate the special.

Sitcom icon Aniston shared a series of photos of her with the cast and crew behind Live in Front of a Studio Audience. Among these is a cute shot of her planting a kiss on the cheek of legendary television producer Norman Lear.

“One for the memories,” Aniston captioned the photos. “Norman Lear. Jimmy Kimmel. Cast of my dreams. Facts of Life. Different Strokes. Blair. Lisa Whelchel.”

“One for the Memories”

Another fun moment in the show came from Lear. The legend dropped an F-bomb live on television, after declaring his favorite words as “over” and “next.”

Additionally, the 99-year-old is the oldest Emmy winner in history for his work on Live in Front of a Studio Audience. He won for both of the previous episodes of the show, which adapted All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. It remains to be seen if Lear will break his own record with the latest installment.

The latest episode of Live in Front of a Studio Audience is streaming now on Hulu.