Step Up Revolution Interview with Stars: Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman
Backstage Notes: The interview took place in Chicago in a suite at the Trump Tower hotel, with a breathtaking view of the city and Lake Michigan. Upon introduction to these talented dancers, I was met with smiles and hugs from the two very enthusiastic stars of the film. Both were grounded, unassuming and extremely eager to speak about their film, and let’s not leave out the gorgeous factor. McCormick is very beautiful with a bubbly personality and Guzman, a former Calvin Klein model, has been slated as the new hottie following in Channing Tatum’s ‘Step Up’ footsteps.
Sarah Adamson: It’s so good to have you here tonight. In this 4th Step Up movie which takes place in Miami, you both play characters from different backgrounds who have dancing in common. Could you both tell us a little about your character’s background and aspirations?
Ryan Guzman: My character’s name is Sean and he actually grew up without a mom and dad so he creates a family with his flash mob and best friend played by Misha Gabriel Hamilton. His idea is to create a better living environment for them by dancing and getting notoriety through flash mobs. He does this YouTube contest and does flash mobs on Ocean Drive and different places…the art museum and ends up meeting this lovely lady (turns to Kathryn and smiles) played by Kathryn (Emily) and kind of falls in love.
Kathryn McCormick: I play Emily Anderson whose father is Bill Anderson played by Peter Gallagher. They are both from Ohio and her father travels around and develops different communities to create a nicer neighborhood. He decides to go to Miami and kind of take over this hotel. He happens to end up being Sean’s boss. So, Emily comes into town with her father and she had just dropped out of college. She went to college because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do but she realized that she wants to dance and that this is her last chance to do it. She’s auditioning for a company. If she doesn’t get it she has to go work for her father. There’s lots of pressure on her to be good enough and to be perfect in this audition. For any person who has any bit of physical activity and artistic expression to be sitting at a desk all day is torture. She comes into town thinking that’s what she’s going to do and she ends up meeting Sean and becomes a little bit interested in him. At first she kind of thinks that being a part of the mob will be something that will help her to find freedom. They relate in a lot of ways too, with her background. It’s just her and her father so having the mob to be able to be a part of it…they’re a family to her and she’s never had a group of friends because she’s always traveling around. Together, they realize what dance really is and how it brings everyone together. She sees, for the first time, what her father does affects people and now, for it to affect someone that she cares about, it is a completely different story.
SA: That’s wonderfully said by both of you. That’s it in a nutshell! Fantastic. I have seen the movie and I absolutely loved it.
SA: Ryan, could you talk about the opening scene on Ocean Drive in which you and The Mob dance on the cars? Was it difficult to stay on the cars without falling? Did you wear special shoes?
RG: Nope, (no special shoes). I did fall off, one time! They didn’t put that in the movie though, thank God! They put water on the streets to heighten the look. We’d actually run up the cars and our shoes would still be wet. We’d have a stop between scenes so they could wipe our shoes off and then we’d start dancing again on top of the cars…still making it very hard because even though it’s not slippery anymore it’s still very hot and you’re sweating so you could be sweating on top of the car and slipping in your own sweat. The heat was radiating off of the cars. I almost blacked out and almost fainted because it was that hot. That’s when I ended up falling.
SA: Well, I’ll never go down Ocean Drive the same. I love that street. The background of the buildings and everything – it was just really cool.
RG: It was a fun one to do. Singing in the movie, too, its one of those eye catching first parts. It’s like the mob is here listen up! We’ve got to do this for you! It’s really fun, inviting and cool.
SA: It’s like out of the gate, here we go! Let’s talk about the cars. The cars were bouncing up and down to the beats of the music. They looked like they were dancing. Do you know how that was accomplished?
RG: That’s hydraulics. All of it was real. We had guys behind the cars with switches. There were four different cars and four different guys behind each one of them pressing the switch. Towards the end of the flash mob…I do a whole smash!
SA: Kathryn, your mother owned a dance studio when you were growing up, similar to Patrick Swayze’s situation. Could you tell us a little about that?
KM: She did. She grew up dancing her whole life. She did the whole competition scene. When she ended up getting pregnant with me she was still taking class from a choreographer, Doug Caldwell. I grew up on his convention as well and then I started assisting him. She opened a studio after she went to college and once my sister and I got a little bit older she just didn’t get to spend much time with us so she decided to go to nursing school…her second passion. Then, I just stuck with it. I quit when I was 10 because I was really shy. I didn’t really like being in front of people but I loved doing it. Once I took a year off, I came back and knew this is where I wanted to be. It was cool because my mom wasn’t the person who pushed me. She wasn’t really involved in it until I got older because she wanted it to be my choice.
SA: Wonderful. Has she seen the movie?
KM: Not yet, she see’s it tomorrow.
SA: She’s going to be so proud of you!
KM: She’s going to cry!
SA: Ryan, tell us a little about your dance background.
RG: I have no dance background. I learned three weeks prior to making the movie.
SA: I’m very impressed! Fantastic!
RG: Thank you.
SA: Kathryn, how was it working with a pro like Peter Gallagher who plays your father in the film? Did he give you any advice?
KM: He would always give me little words of wisdom, Ryan too. It was so neat to see the difference in his energy when we first got on set until the last day when he was watching us do our duet. He’s so connected through all art forms because he does everything. By the end of it he was in tears. You could see by the look in his eye that he was so proud of what we had accomplished because he saw us from the first day with all those nerves until the very end. I remember on my first day I had a scene with Ryan and I also had a scene with Peter. He would always give me little tips here and there but he would never tell me what to do. It would always be my choice.
SA: That’s so wonderful. I know that last scene is so powerful. Your dance is just so wonderful. It’s really great.
SA: This is a question for either of you, the scenes in Ricky’s Salsa nightclub, where were those filmed? If it’s a real location, I’d like to go there!
RG: It’s a set. They built it from nothing. They had Sean’s house right next to it. I was actually filming in Sean’s house and they said, “Well, if you turn to the right that’s where we are going to build Ricky’s.” There was nothing there and then two days later there was Rickey’s! I’m like, “This is amazing! I love this place!” It’s just inviting. It was fun.
SA: The film has a few messages in it, what are you hoping viewers take away from the film?
KM: Hopefully, they will be able to have courage. If you believe in something, somebody’s got to speak up. Whatever gifts you have, use them for a greater purpose. Don’t just use them because you think you’re good at them or for entertainment but double that and make it something that really has a purpose and a reason. Hopefully, they will be encouraged to…if they’re a dancer, to dance harder. Whatever they do, do it more and do it greater.
RG: I heard from Katherine that she was inspired by the first one [film] to continue dancing. I hope this movie has that same reach to someone young who is struggling to find their way…to really inspire them to either continue dancing or whatever art form they are in whether it be athletics or school – anything! Don’t veer away from the path that you’ve been meant to follow.
SA: That’s wonderful advice. That’s great. What are your favorite scenes to watch?
KM: I love the contemporary piece. I love the boat scene. It just feels real.
RG: You know my favorite scene isn’t a full scene it’s a cut away. It’s on the beach where Sean is teaching Emily a contemporary piece at the end. It was just really, really fun to do that one too. You’re playing on the beach and you’re goofing off and you see the enjoyment that you’re having and then it comes back to Sean’s cousin’s garage where they are training again. It was just a fun scene to do.
SA: That’s great. I love how they had all the different locations, the art museum, the beach and the party.
RG: It really showcases Miami.
SA: Yeah it does! It makes Miami look great.
SA: I want to thank you so much for speaking with me tonight on Hollywood 360 Radio Network.
Sarah Knight Adamson ©July 23, 2012