Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez got a hell of a workout and a detailed tour of New York City making “Premium Rush,” in which they play fast-moving bike messengers. Metro sat down with the stars to talk about filming in the city and how dangerous even pretending to be a bike messenger can be — and to nitpick some geographical inconsistencies in the film.
Joe, you actually went through a cab’s windshield while filming. Were there other particularly close calls or dangerous moments for either of you?
Dania Ramirez: There was one time where I had to do a take where I had to jump the curb to get back on the sidewalk, and this UPS truck just decided to pull out of nowhere right in front of me, and I had to turn my bike and skid and the whole nine. Every single day we filmed the movie, it was always in the back of my mind: “I hope I don’t fall today.” Because I fell so many times. [Laughs]
It can be tricky making a movie in New York, worrying about continuity issues when you turn corners.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Actually, the movie’s really good about that. It’s pretty ... I’m trying to think if there were any.
Well, the 1 train doesn’t actually go above ground south of Columbia University.
JGL: And he would be going south. That’s right, that’s right. We did. You’re totally right. We shot that chase scene up in, like, the high 130s. But it looked awesome. I guess I wasn’t worried about that. I just got done shooting a movie where Gotham City is made up of L.A., Pittsburgh, New York and parts of outside London. So to me, if it’s seamless in the movie it doesn’t really bother me.
How was the experience of shooting on campus at Columbia, your alma mater?
JGL: It was a trip, man, because we shot in 2010, which is basically exactly 10 years after I arrived as a freshman and was living in John Jay, so yeah. It’s just a bizarre thing to make it back 10 years later. It was the first time I had shot on campus.
Have either of you seen the 1986 Kevin Bacon film “Quicksilver” before?
DR: I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me about it.
JGL: Especially people who are into bikes, I’ve found. “Oh, so you’re doing ‘Quicksilver.’” It’s like, I guess I’ve got to see this movie. S---, sorry. I still haven’t watched it.
DR: At this point I kind of don’t even want to. [Laughs]
In what parts of NYC were you particularly excited to film?
DR: I was looking forward to riding around Chinatown. I just think on film it’s so interesting to watch that part of the city.
JGL: I liked shooting uptown, actually, even if it might be a little inconsistent. [laughs] That part of town is maybe a little lesser known, and it is so pretty — maybe not pretty in the sense of peaceful or whatever, but it’s a really visually striking part of town with the train up there. And it’s a part of town that I spent a fair amount of time in because I went to school up there and lived in Harlem for a year and a half.