Last time we visited with Dania Ramirez at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami, she was the face of CoverGirl and on her way.
“I’m still climbing,” she says of her career. “I’m almost there.”
These days Ramirez is the co-star of the new action flick “Premium Rush.” She plays Vanessa, the girlfriend of Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The two are bike messengers navigating their way through crazy New York City who run into a creepy cop (Michael Shannon, “Bug”), who tries to intercept a valuable delivery to pay off his gambling debts.
She is, needless to say, excited about the film, even though there were some hazards involved.
“I fell off my bike every day. I had bruises and black and blues everywhere,” she says of the grueling shoot. “The producer hired a masseuse to come to the set because we were in so much pain.”
It’s ironic Ramirez got the role because she grew up having an aversion to traveling on two wheels.
“I had a bike phobia,” the Dominican Republic native, 32, admits. “I fell down when I was like 7 and got really hurt. So I wasn’t really into it, just beach cruisers, maybe.”
But in showbiz, you have to sacrifice to succeed.
“I read the script and I knew it was written by David Koepp, who had done all these movies (‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Mission: Impossible’). I was like, OK, I want to play this character. I want to bring her to life.”
A call to her agent prompted the inevitable. “He asked me, ‘Do you know how to ride a bike?’ And I answered, ‘Of course!’ Because that’s what you say when you’re an actress,” she says, laughing. “The cool thing was that I got to conquer my fear. I just wanted to go in there, dive in and kick a--.”
The cast physically prepared for weeks before setting up camp all over Manhattan, from way up at Columbia University down to Chinatown.
“We were sweating bullets filming. It was a great all-over body workout jumping up curbs and going up hills.”
Ramirez, who has biceps even first lady Michelle Obama would envy, is a pro now who owns two bikes and is currently training for a triathlon.
“Thank God we did so much training because our endurance was up. We really had to be fit. We’re riding [fixed-wheel bikes], so you can’t stop pedaling or coast. There’s no brake.”
There’s no break for the audience either, who is watching these messengers risk their lives at every street corner, with every move of a taxi or a pedestrian.
Gigantic maps are splattered on screen so you can see their wildly zigzagging routes.
“New York is definitely the silent character,” Ramirez says. “You get to see it from a perspective that you wouldn’t normally see in movies.”
“Premium Rush” could be the remedy for a case of the summer doldrums.
“It’s a great popcorn movie. You just sit down and have a blast,” she says. “I love the fact that it’s not trying to be any more than that.”