'Premium Rush' Star Enjoys the Ride19 Dec, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff
Filming action-thriller Premium Rush was as intense for the cast in real life as it comes across on screen.
Dania Ramirez (American Reunion, X-Men: The Last Stand), who plays bike messenger Vanessa in the film, and her co-star Joseph-Gordon Levitt (Looper, The Dark Knight Rises) spent several weeks training leading up to filming.
“The training was grueling [because] we needed the endurance,” she said. “We needed to make sure we didn’t run out of breath while shooting the scenes over and over again. It was great. I was in the best shape of my life.”
The movie follows Wilee (Gordon-Levitt), a fearless bike messenger who takes on an important “premium rush” delivery that causes unforeseen chaos, when a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon) stops at nothing trying to get ahold of the package. Several chases ensue along busy Manhattan streets, as Wilee attempts to fend off the relentless villain. He finds help from his on-and-off again girlfriend Vanessa, who steps in to fix the problem, to which she inadvertently contributed.
Riding bikes in New York City amid real traffic and pedestrians, for Ramirez, was the most challenging part of making Premium Rush.
“Most of the dialogue happens when we’re riding bikes,” she said. “Not only do you have to remember your lines and be in character and tell a story, but then you also have to worry about crashing into New Yorkers who didn’t listen when [the crew] told them not to cross the street because we were filming.”
The filmmakers map out the various routes in the city, giving viewers a scenic tour of sorts of the Big Apple in the process.
“It’s a pretty good way to show New York City — from a bike messenger’s perspective [as] you go through the streets,” Ramirez said. “The director [and writer], David Koepp, did a really good job at that. That’s the one thing about the movie that’s CGI’d. All the stunts were performed by real people. It has that raw, sort of danger feeling. When you see someone fall, you’re really feel like, ‘Ouch!’”
Suffering their fair share of cuts, bumps and bruises while filming, Ramirez and Gordon-Levitt met the real-life men and women who make a career out of zipping through the streets, making deliveries throughout New York on their bikes.
“It’s a very interesting culture,” Ramirez said. “The one thing that actually shocked me was all the women that are actually badasses on the bikes. It was super cool to chat it up with them. They all had an interesting view on the environment. There’s a lot of them that really enjoy riding a bike because it’s better than polluting the universe by riding in cars.”
Ramirez liked riding a bicycle in Premium Rush so much that she actually completed her first major race in September, the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, which raises funds for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She competed on a team with Chrissie Wellington, a four-time Ironman champion, and came in sixth place.
“It’s really great exercise, but aside from that, it’s really relaxing,” she said. “Maybe not as a bike messenger in New York City because you have to be alert, but biking in general is very therapeutic. I think a lot of people are going to watch [the movie] and feel like, ‘Hey, I want to ride a bike. That looks fun.’”
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment sends Premium Rush to DVD ($30.99) and Blu-ray Disc ($35.99) — both with UltraViolet functionality — Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas.
“It’s an awesome gift for the holidays because it’s for everybody,” Ramirez said. “It’s a ‘PG-13’ movie but it’s also a chase movie, so [for] adults, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s fun. It’s sort of a popcorn movie that you can watch at home — great acting. It’s just a good ride.”
Bonus material includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes: “The Starting Line — Meet the Cast” and “Behind the Wheels — Featurette on the Action, Stunts and Chases.”
“That film was like 90 minutes in real time, and that’s the way it felt when we were shooting it,” Ramirez said. “We were on a really tight schedule, and that’s a testament to the director. He really planned and mapped it out, and had thought about it really thoroughly prior to us shooting. There’s not one scene that I can remember that we shot that wasn’t in the movie.”
Click here to read the Premium Rush review.