Joseph Gordon-Levitt Interview For ‘Premium Rush’
Dodging speeding cars, crazed cabbies and eight million cranky pedestrians is all in a day’s work for Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the best of New York’s agile and aggressive bicycle messengers. It takes a special breed to ride the fixie – super lightweight, single-gear bikes with no brakes and riders who are equal part skilled cyclists and nutcases who risk becoming a smear on the pavement every time they head into traffic. But a guy who’s used to putting his life on the line is about to get more than even he is used to when his last envelope of the day – a routine “premium rush” run – turns into a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan. Co-written and directed by David Koepp, ‘Premium Rush’ stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Jamie Chung, Dania Ramirez, Aasif Mandvi, and Wole Parks. The film is released August 24th in the US and September 14th in the UK. Look out for a more in-depth interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for ‘Premium Rush’ next week.
What was it like filming the moments when you were illustrating the mental process while riding? I could really feel the instincts and analysation ticking over…
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I think that’s one of the cooler ideas David Koepp had for the movie, to really show the mental process in an instant, with what you have to do when you’re riding. And it’s true, when you’re riding in New York – and this is one of the things I love about riding in New York, you have to be 100% focused on riding. You can’t think about anything else, it’s not like driving where you can listen to the radio at the same time or have a conversation. You have to focus, because at any given time there’s a hundred different things coming at you that you have to make sure you don’t hit (laughs). You have to trust your instincts, analyse it real quick and go. And the way we’re shooting this with the camera’s on the motor cycles, helmets, and mounted on the SUV’s, it just creates lots of movement. It makes the movie really dynamic.
What was it about ‘Premium Rush’ that grabbed you? And your character Wilee, with his bike not having brakes, that’s a pretty good metaphor for him as a person?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah. Wilee’s the fastest bike messenger in New York City, and he rides with no breaks. Like you said, that’s a good metaphor for just how he is and who he is. He’s decided that its better to be present and just go for it. And I liked that. ‘Premium Rush’ to me is one of those movies that’s a popcorn movie, it’s there for your entertainment, written and directed by a guy who’s a master storyteller in David Koepp. And I like it when a movie knows what it is and does it well. It’s a crowd pleaser.
Michael Shannon as the antagonist, how was it working against him?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Michael Shannon in this movie, I think when people look back on ‘Premium Rush,’ they’re gonna say, “That had badass chase scenes, AND MICHAEL SHANNON WAS SO GOOD!” (Laughs) Everyone else was really good, like Wole Parks, Dania Ramirez, everybody’s really good….I’m pretty good (laughs). But Michael Shannon, I think that the character he has made in ‘Premium Rush’ is just such a classic Cagney heavy. He’s great.
With all the bumps, bruises and stitches you got working on ‘Premium Rush,’ was this film the most physically taxing role you’ve played?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I had just got done doing ‘Inception,’ which before ‘Premium Rush’ was probably the hardest job I’d ever done physically – and it was hard for different reasons. But just as far as pure, physical energy and exertion, ‘Premium Rush’ was harder (laughs). ‘Inception’ would come in a close second, but I was on a bike every day, all day. The whole movie is on a bike. ‘Inception’ has cool action sequences, but this is the entire movie. And I guess I kind of wanted that. I’ve always wanted to get into riding a bike, and I’d just never put in the time to do it, that’s a beautiful thing that I’m really lucky for and grateful for about doing the job that I get to do. You get the opportunity to try new things like that.
With the training going into the movie and being able to film riding a bike at fast speeds, I can imagine that being a lot of fun?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah. ‘Premium Rush’ was so much fun, I’ve done a lot of different movies, and it’s always fulfilling and it feels really good, and to work, it’s my favourite thing to do. But ‘Premium Rush’ in particular was fun, it’s not just fulfilling or satisfying. It was big big smiles on your face fun (laughs). There’s nothing quite like going down a hill at 40mph, that kind of adrenaline pumping. And the training, I trained for six weeks or so, everyday, five days a week. And on the the bike you do start to feel like it’s an extension of your body, and less like a vehicle you’re riding on top of. It’s more like you’ve got round, circular legs.
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