Question: How did you each get involved with this film? Was it brought to you, or had you been looking to do a straight-action film?
DANIA RAMIREZ: For me, when my agents and reps send me a script, I read it through, just for the story purpose of it, and then I read it again to think of my character and see if it’s something that I’m interested in bringing to life. But, at the time, Joe [Gordon-Levitt] was attached to star in it, and I knew that David Koepp was directing, and I was a fan of his writing, in the past. So, I had to go in and audition, and then they brought me back to do a chemistry read with Joe. It just felt really right. It was a good fit.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: I was in the middle of shooting 50/50, the first time that I read the script for Premium Rush, and it was very different. 50/50 is a movie about a guy fighting cancer, who’s body is giving up on him, and this was a character who was very strong and confident in his body. And riding a bike around New York City, all summer, sounded just like the perfect thing.
Do you feel like you have to have a certain level of cockiness to be a bike messenger, since you can’t doubt yourself at all?
RAMIREZ: I don’t know if it’s cockiness, as much as having to be confident and sure of yourself. You’re putting yourself in a situation where you do have to have a certain level of confidence in yourself, and know that you’re good at something.
GORDON-LEVITT: Whether you’re a messenger or just riding, you can’t hesitate. You have to confidently and decidedly make your decisions and stick with them. That’s one of the basic traits of this character, Wilee. He makes these split-second decisions without hesitation. But, I think I would describe it as confidence more than cockiness.
Did this turn out to be more fun or more work than you expected it to be?
GORDON-LEVITT: It was really fun!
RAMIREZ: I think it was just a blast!
GORDON-LEVITT: I expected it to be fun, and it was fun. And I expected it to be work, and it was work.
RAMIREZ: I expected it to be hard work too because we were gonna be riding bikes the entire movie, so I knew it was gonna be really physical. But, as far as the fun aspect of it, it was there while we were filming it and it’s there now that I watch it.
GORDON-LEVITT: I wanted to go work hard and ride hard and get fit. That was really appealing, to me.
Joe, compared to some of the other action roles you’ve done, like G.I. Joe, Inception and Looper, how was the intensity of Premium Rush?
GORDON-LEVITT: Well, just as far as the physical challenge, I would say Premium Rush was the hardest one, and Inception would come in with a close second. I was on a bike, every day, all day. The whole movie is on a bike. Inception has some cool action sequences, but this was the entire movie.
RAMIREZ: You have to take into consideration that this is a film where, most of the movie, we’re riding bikes. We had all the dialogue, while we were riding bikes. So, a lot of the training that we did – and we trained for six weeks prior to actually going to New York City and training there – was just a lot of endurance ‘cause you couldn’t run out of breath. You had to get your scene across and still be going really fast, in the midst of being in the middle of New York City. The training was actually completely different than doing an action film, where you can just go in and do your action sequences.
What most surprised you about bike culture and bike messengers?
GORDON-LEVITT: What stood out to me was the sense of community. There’s a real culture and ethic around messengers, but also just people who are into bikes and that ride bikes.
RAMIREZ: There’s a genuine respect that they have for one another. In the past, when I saw bike messengers, I would just see them as individuals. Then, I realized that they’re all tied together.
GORDON-LEVITT: There’s a real morale with that. They’re really into having more bikes and less cars, and that’s true. If more people rode bikes and less people drove cars, the air would be in better shape and people would be in better shape. Bikes are clearly a superior form of transportation when it comes to just simple getting around. A car makes sense if you need to carry a bunch of stuff.
RAMIREZ: It’s a healthy way to get from point A to point B.
GORDON-LEVITT: And you find a lot of subversive people who are like, “Don’t buy into mainstream culture. Mainstream culture is so oriented around cars and the money that is concentrated in big oils and big automotive.” Sorry, I shouldn’t be talking about all of that.
Joe, how badly did you really get injured on this film?
GORDON-LEVITT: There was a bit of an accident. I should start off by saying that everyone on the set, from the director on down, was very safety conscious. It was a perfect storm of a lot of things all going wrong, at once. To make a long story short, a diplomat broke through our lock-up. In New York City, you have the United Nations, so there’s diplomats driving around and they can break the law. So, he broke through our cones and the cops, and double-parked right in the middle of where we were shooting. Basically, I ended up going through the rear window of a taxi cab and getting 31 stitches. Everyone was worried, immediately. They were really, really upset and worried that it happened, but I was flooded with adrenalin, right when it happened. You don’t feel any pain, right when your arm breaks open, so I was just like, “Oh, my god! Jesus, sorry! I’m okay!” (Director) Dave [Koepp] ran up and was like, “Are you okay?!,” and he was terrified. I was like, “You’ve gotta record this, man! Look at this! This is crazy!” So, I convinced him to, and he took out his phone and recorded some video. I was stoked that he actually put it in the movie.
Did you have to miss any work because of that?
GORDON-LEVITT: Well, it was towards the end of the day, and then I was in the next morning.
RAMIREZ: He was at work the next day, with a smile on his face. It was a good reminder that we’re not really these people, riding these bikes. We had stunt people who could do those things.