After years of honing their craft, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez have come into their own in the film industry. Audiences are keeping their eyes on the actors, especially in David Koepp’s latest cinematic adventure Premium Rush. The film stars Gordon-Levitt as bike messenger and thrill-seeker Wilee. He’s constantly in danger weaving in and out of traffic across the hustle and bustle of New York City. But when Wilee gets his hands on a mysterious envelope, he embarks on an assignment that may cost him his life.
ScreenCrave recently spoke with Gordon-Levitt and Ramirez about embarking on such a stimulating film. The actors revealed how difficult it was to avoid scrapes and bruises, and told us what’s next on their busy schedules.
When you first signed on, in the back of your mind did you think, “I’m going to get the best workout of my life?”
Dania Ramirez: I was scared! I had bike phobia before I did this movie and I had told my agents that I could ride a bike. [laughs] So I was scared but I also know I’m incredibly focused and when I get into something I just try to forget about everything and do it. For me I was excited. I was excited to go and face my fears.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The answer is a resounding yes. I was in the middle of shooting 50/50 when I first read the script for Premium Rush. That was a movie about a guy fighting cancer whose body is giving out on him. The idea of playing someone who’s extremely healthy and confident in his body sounded great. It was exactly the kind of contrast I needed.
Great job on that film too! With something like Premium Rush, there have to be some injuries on set.
Dania Ramirez: Your story is way better than mine! I had a few cuts on my leg.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I got in an accident and I ended up with 31 stitches on my arm.
How did that happen?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Well it was sort of a perfect storm of a lot of things. It was partially my fault because I was going too fast but a diplomat got in the way. You know in New York City there’s the United Nations so there’s diplomats riding around with these diplomat license plates which basically means they don’t have to obey the laws. So they broke through our cones and double-parked right in the middle of where we were going. I went through the rear windshield of a taxi cab and bled all over the place. And it’s in the movie actually, which is a cool thing. Right when it happened, you get so much adrenaline that it doesn’t hurt right away. So the director rushed up and was worried sick. I was like ‘Holy s–t dude, we have to record this! Look at this f–king thing, I’m bleeding everywhere!’ and he did. He recorded a bit on his phone and put it after the credits in the movie.
Dania Ramirez: There were a lot of falls and I just fell all the time. I fell when we were just training. I was in Santa Monica by the beach and I was trying to learn how to jump curves. I was going really fast and I thought I had it by then. So I just went like full all speed-out and I try to go, went sideways and skidded all the way for like maybe half a block. Our trainer was just looking back and saying ‘Are you okay?’ [laughs] I was like fine, fine! Because it’s true, the adrenaline’s pumping so you don’t really feel anything. So the next day I was in a lot of pain.
What was it like working with David Koepp, who’s so experienced in this genre?
Dania Ramirez: He’s a great director. He really knows what he wants. He makes it really easy for you as an actor to go in and ask him questions about what he likes or what you see and sort of meets you in the right frame of mind for your performance. I just really liked working with him.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: And David [Koepp] is just a master craftsman. He wrote the script for the first Spider-Man movie, the first Mission: Impossible movie and he wrote the script for Jurassic Park. He knows how to craft an action-adventure movie and it’s great to just sit and learn from a guy like that. He also just really enjoys it. You can tell he’s just having a great f–king time.
You can definitely tell that everyone’s having a great time, especially Michael Shannon. He’s got such intensity on screen. He’s wonderfully over-the-top in this movie. You can’t help but love it!
Dania Ramirez: It’s so interesting because actually working with him was a lot different to me than watching his performance. It’s a completely different vibe because when you’re in it, he’s so committed to being that villain that you are sort of scared of him. Watching his performance afterwards he’s so brilliant. You want to hate him but you just can’t because he’s making you laugh throughout the whole thing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It’s really fun when you’re watching from the comfort of your seat. When he’s actually standing over you like that it’s pretty intimidating.
Then there’s your two characters with their intriguing relationship…
Dania Ramirez: He’s so hard [to work with]!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It’s so hard pretending to be attracted to this woman [laughs].
Dania Ramirez: Well I’m glad you thought we had good chemistry! [laughs] We were supposed to be selling a bit of a love story.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt you’ve had such an outstanding career, especially within the past decade. You’ve become a favorite among directors like Christopher Nolan and Rian Johnson. How does it feel achieving such a milestone?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Well thank you, that’s very very flattering. I’m lucky. I love doing it and I’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s been a gradual process of being able to do stuff that I like more and more. The last couple of years I’ve been extremely lucky being able to work with Chris and Rian and David. I’m having a ball. This movie was a ton of fun to do and I’m just grateful.
Dania, what do you have going on next?
Dania Ramirez: I’m filming a show called Devious Maids. It’s Marc Cherry who created the show. He created Desperate Housewives, so we are starting… I think we’re going to go film in November. I’m also producing a film that we’re planning to film right after, during my hiatus. It’s called Runaway Love and it’s sort of an unexpected love story and it’s myself, Michael Rapaport, Hayden Panettiere and Freddie Rodriguez. So we’ve got a pretty well-rounded cast.
Cool! What’s the unexpected love story about if you don’t mind me asking?
Dania Ramirez: Well it’s really about this Mexican woman trying to get back home to see her dying mother. She meets this other person along the way who’s like an orphan and has another bundle of issues. You go into this incredible adventure throughout Mexico and end up falling in love.
Lastly, is there a specific genre or role you guys want to tackle but haven’t yet?
Dania Ramirez: For me, I think it’s the movie I’m actually producing is definitely a role… it’s a leading role but it’s beautifully written. It’s a great character piece in which it’s a love story but it’s also an emotional journey of the soul. That’s a role that I haven’t gotten to play but I like to switch it up. I like to go from action to comedy to try to do everything. As an actor, that’s sort of what you want to do. You want to dive into all of these different places.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I recently got to do a movie that I wrote and directed. That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and it’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m delighted I got to do it.
Premium Rush opens in theaters everywhere August 24th.