We just sat down with Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman who star in the brand new movie Step Up Revolution! The dancing duo told us all about filming in Miami, preparing for the intense dance scenes, and what makes this movie SO different from the first three Step Up movies! Read our conversation below and be sure to check out Step Up Revolution when it comes out in theaters July 27!
T: Tell us about Step Up 4!
K: It is the fourth of the franchise and they're actually naming it Step Up Revolution, which is pretty cool. They're kind of reinventing the franchise and adding a lot of different dance styles to it. It has a completely different energy then the ones that you've seen before. As you've seen in the beginning, the first one started out and it was mainly the love story that everyone was attached to. From there it turned more into the dance battling, and the dance was what really stood out in Step Up 2 and 3. It's like the story meets the dance and it's not just a movie where you're like, 'Okay this is a great dance movie, so I can't wait for the dance scenes.' In the dance scenes, you're so connected to the story and wondering what's going to happen next, that the dance is just sort of a catalyst for the story. You just become so invested in every part and neither outweighs the other.
R: Like she said, there are so many different dance styles. I mean, contemporary, salsa, hip hop, everything you could possibly think about.
T: Awesome! What are your characters like?
K: I play the role of Emily Anderson, and she is moving from Cleveland, Ohio, with her father, who is played by Peter Gallagher. He's a realtor, and he's coming in and trying to take over this hotel that Sean works at. Emily just dropped out of college so this is her last opportunity to audition to be a professional dancer at this company in Miami. She's coming there with the hopes that her dream's coming true. She's trying to find freedom in her dancing. So through that, she meets Sean and sees where his dance mob is going in the direction of their dancing and there's something about them where she's like, 'That's really what I want.' So this is kind of a story of Emily rebelling for the first time, seeing how what her dad does actually affects people, learning to have a voice and stand up for herself, fighting for what she wants, and fighting for love for the first time. It's kind of a battle between her dreams, her relationship with her dad, and her love for Sean. More than anything, she realizes that she doesn't dance because it's fun or it looks good. She dances because she has no other option. There's actually a huge impact that she can make through what she does.
R: Sean is this leader, this community leader and the leader of the dance mob with his best friend, played by Mischa Gabriel, who plays Eddie in the movie. My character is a really loving and open guy. He really believes that his mob can become something great. So what they do is they enter this YouTube contest and through flashmobs, trying to get the attention of people, get signed through certain different things through YouTube. That's his route until his eyes are opened through a girl, Emily. He realizes that he loves his family and everything, but now there's a new love in his life. He has to figure out how to deal with that and what areas it is going to affect. Throughout the movie, you see Sean grow and falter. By the end, I think he likes who he becomes.
T: Cool, and you didn't have any dance experience before the movie - is that right?
R: No, no dance experience.
T: So how did you prepare for it? What kind of classes did you have to take?
R: Actually, I didn't do any classes. The audition process was about a month and a half long. They had four acting auditions and four dance auditions. So, I don't know how I got through those auditions, but I did, and they saw something in me. I think initially I thought they were going to dance-double me, but I'm very avid about not having a dance double.
K: This is a very competitive guy.
R: Very competitive. I wanted to give everything I possibly could to this movie. I decided not to speak up, but show what I had to offer. They had a three-week training period before shooting the movie in Miami to learn all the combos and learn all the dances. I ended up doing it all and the director and producers came in and wanted to see how it all looked together. I actually went in and did the choreography with everybody else. I think I kind of surprised the producers and the director because after they saw what I did they were like, 'Oh, we don't need a dance double anymore. This guy can do what we want.'
K: I think he had the natural groove inside of him. He's very connected to his body. He understands where his body is supposed to go and he understands what feels good and what doesn't. I think more than anything, it was trying to develop that trust with each other and knowing that the professional dancers around him weren't judging him, that they loved him and wanted him to do well. It was a matter of strengthening his confidence, because he had the movement inside of him already. It was really interesting to watch somebody just dive in and be fearless. It was so inspiring.
R: I definitely wouldn't have become the dancer that I am today without the 20 professional dancers around me and Kathryn and everybody behind me teaching me and leading me along the way. Having so much talent to pull from and feed off of, it kind of creates this new monster inside yourself and creates this opportunity you never thought you'd have.
T: That's really exciting! Kathryn, you obviously have a huge dance background. Did So You Think You Can Dance prepare you for something like this?
K: Doing the show, you learn so much about who you are and how you work under pressure. There are so many times that you go on that stage and you don't know how you're going to pull off what you're doing. More than anything, I think I learned how to connect to stories in a very short period of time. You have 6 hours on that show to learn and perfect a dance. From that, it's not just the dance. You're actually sometimes telling really deep and meaningful stories. I feel like each thing I've done has prepared me for becoming a greater storyteller and being able to relate to this and act for the first time. I didn't really realize, but my life has kind of been the training process for this one moment. I think that's how it usually happens. You don't realize what you're learning until you've learned it and you're in a space to use it.
T: So how does this Step Up movie really set itself apart from the previous three?
R: There's no battling, that's for sure. But I think that gives it so much more. With the kind of dance that we do, flash mobs, you're actually able to show art through dance. You'll see things in the movie that you never thought you could possibly see in a movie. We have a variety though. We have parkour guys in here, we have all different styles of hip hop dancing, and other styles of dancing. I think that gives it this crazy extra flavor to the movie.
K: And it's all kind of unexpected. I think in most Step Up movies, you expect to see dancing, and you know when it's coming. We're doing flash mobs so it's in certain areas where you're supposed to look like a normal person. So say you're walking through a plaza. You're all supposed to look like you're just going to work in business suits in a plaza, but all of a sudden we all stop and cause this ruckus among everything going on. It's a little less expected, which I think is pretty cool. It's not only the dancers, but the community is involved in the dancing as well. So I think the voice through art is something huge that you have seen a little bit of in the other movies, but not as much as you'll see in this one.
R: We take all the skill from all the other movies, but we also put emotion behind it. We give you something to feel when you dance.
K: To be more specific, you know why we're there so the whole audience is fighting for that because they know that we're taking a risk. They know that this may be our last chance to really fight for our lives and our dreams.
T: You shot in Miami, so what was that like? What were you doing when you weren't filming?
K: Miami is really hot. I grew up in Augusta, Georgia so I'm used to humidity, but once you live in LA for a certain amount of time you get so spoiled. You come back and it's like 'It's hot! I'm melting!' But Miami is beautiful, so beautiful. It's cool because it rains kind of often, but only for like 20 minute periods, so it's kind of refreshing. Basically, I was on set as much as I possibly could be because we had this core group that was Ryan, Mischa and I. We were super close. We were always on set with each other. When one was filming, the others were on set to support. No matter what at the end of the day, if we were having a hard time, we could kind of look at each other in the eye, and we knew we had someone behind us. So when we weren't on set, I know I - Emily is completely separate from the mob and Sean's world - so there were so many times when I wasn't filming or didn't have rehearsals and they did, so I would be in yoga class. I would always be grocery shopping or trying to run or work out or do something like that - just trying to be as active as possible because I'm used to dancing three hours every single day. It came to a point where for a whole month, I was just acting. It was such a weird thing for me.
R: I was pretty much on set all the time. I think I only had like three days off. Literally, I'm in every scene in the movie. When I wasn't on set, I'd be at my house, but I'd choose to go back on set because it just felt like home. So while she was doing her scenes, I'd go visit her, go watch her act or dance, or do whatever she's got to do. If I wasn't doing that I was in rehearsal or running a new combo for the next dance. It was really fast-paced for me and really difficult, but fun at the same time.
T: So why do TWIST readers absolutely have to check out the movie when it comes out this summer?
K: They have to! For one, they're going to be entertained. It's going to be a really good time and an excuse to get all of your friends together, to come to a movie that will not only keep you at the edge of your seats but it will also make you feel something. It's so relatable, like falling in love for the first time, having insecurities, having fears, having doubts, having something taken away from you. I think it's so relatable and it's a journey that they can watch and hopefully be inspired by to face some of the issues that they're going through. They'll see how Sean and Emily did it and hopefully be encouraged to take those next steps to developing who they really are and what they really want.
R: You'll leave the movie inspired, or at least wanting to dance after. The movie is just so fun. It's the ultimate form of entertainment. There's no way you can watch the movie and not want to do something or become better at something. It's a great movie.
T: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
K: Coming from a dance background, I did this movie, and obviously now, I want to do more acting. I've been getting into an acting class. I have my fingers dipped in a lot of different areas. I'm still training dance-wise and performing as much as I can. I'm acting, taking voice lessons. I'm teaching a little bit as well, so I don't really know what's next. I'm doing a few independent films and short projects and things like that but right now, I'm just trying to invest my time in stories that I know will have an impact on the viewers watching. Whether that means it's something that pays a lot of money or doesn't pay anything at all, more than anything, I want something I know people will leave having a better outlook on their life and feeling like they're not alone in certain situations. I'm just in that place where I'm trying to figure out where my time is needed the most and how it can be the most beneficial.
T: Totally! Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us today!
K: Thank you!
R: Thanks, TWIST!
Photo: Courtesy of Krista Tonnesen