Roundtable Interview With Joseph Gordon-Levitt On Premium Rush

Quickly rising to the Hollywood A-list is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was recently seen in The Dark Knight Rises. After really breaking out with 2010’s Inception, the actor has been on the fast track to superstardom. This year, aside from his important role in Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, he’ll also be starring in the exciting sci-fi flick Looper, the Oscar-hopeful Lincoln and the fast paced bike riding film Premium Rush.

Hitting theatres this week, Premium Rush sees Gordon-Levitt playing a bicycle messenger who finds himself being chased around the hectic streets of New York City by a dirty copy who is after something that Gordon-Levitt’s character Wilee has in his possession.

Recently, the actor did the press rounds in LA to promote the film, and we were on hand to speak with him and hear what he had to say.

Check it out below.

We Got This Covered: Did you do your own stunts?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Certainly not (laughs). The character of Wilee was played by five of us. Me and four other guys. Everyone had their own specialties. One was an actual bike messenger. One was a Hollywood stunt man that gets hit by cars. One’s really good at trials bike riding, which is the chase towards the end of the movie where he’s on a different bike. That’s the kind of bike that’s particularly conducive to jumping and stuff. Then, there was a guy that was really good at doing tricks on a track bike.

We Got This Covered: At the end of the film, you’ve got blood rolling down your arm. Was that movie magic?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: There was a bit of an accident. I should start by saying that everyone was very safety conscious. It was a perfect storm of a lot of things going wrong all at once. To make a long story short, a diplomat broke through our lockup.

In New York City, you have the United Nations, so you have a lot of diplomats driving around. The cops were double parked right in the middle of where we were going. Basically, I ended up going through the rear window of a taxi cab and getting thirty-one stitches. You dont feel any pain right when your arm breaks open so I’m like “Whoa, geez, I’m sorry. I’m ok.” David [Koepp] was terrified though. I was like “You gotta record this, man. Look at this. This is crazy.” I convinced him to, so he pulled out his phone and recorded some video. I was stoked that he actually put it into the movie.”

We Got This Covered: How would you compare this to some of the other action films you’ve done like Inception or the upcoming Looper?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: As far as the physical challenge, I’d have to say this is the hardest one. 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 is the entire movie.

We Got This Covered: Did you pick up any tricks on not getting killed while riding a bike in NYC?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I thought a cool kernel of wisdom that I learned from multiple people was “If you want to avoid hitting something, don’t look at it.” Look at where you’re going. If you’re trying to thread a needle and get between two cars, as soon as you start looking at where you don’t want to go, you’ll hit them. You have to have the confidence to stay straight and go forward. I think there’s something allegorical with that with life in general. That’s part of the movie, too. Wilee, the character I play, he is that kind of confident guy that has no hesitation to make a split second decision. There’s a lot of virtue in that.

We Got This Covered: Being familiar with east coast, does it help when you can easily identify with your characters?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: You always have to find a connection. If you’re alienated from your character, you won’t be believable. To me, I come away from acting learning how much we all have in common. We’re all people and we all connect with anybody if we allow ourselves to.

We Got This Covered: How was it working with Michael Shannon and what did you think of his performance?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Shannon’s awesome! There’s a tradition, it seems, of really, really fine actors playing villains in a big chase movie, whether it’s Dennis Hopper in Speed or Alan Rickman in Die Hard, and I think Shannon really fits into that tradition. I think he’s one of the best alive and he’s so good in this movie. The funny thing is he’s actually a very gentle, sweet guy with a dry sense of humor. He’s nothing like the character he plays in this movie.

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