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Mexican-American newcomer Ryan Guzman makes his debut as the lead in the fourth installment of the Step Up franchise, playing a waiter at an ultra-posh Miami hotel who during his off hours heads a dance crew known as "The Mob," made up of cutting-edge dancers, musicians and artists. Together they form flash mobs using the streets of Miami as their staging ground for complex choreography and imaginative scenarios.
You’d never guess, but prior to filming Guzman had no professional dance training; in fact, he didn’t even know how to dance. The 24-year-old actor landed the lead role thanks to his mixed martial arts skills and charisma and he candidly admits the audition process was terrifying.
Movies.com: When you first auditioned filmmakers were a bit unsure if you would be able to handle the choreography. How did you make it happen?
Ryan Guzman: When I heard about the audition through a friend, I called my manager and asked to see if I could maybe get a small role. So he set me up with an audition for the lead character. Ten auditions later I got the role and it's been a ride. Not only did I have to learn how to dance but I had to match the skill level of the professional dancers so that it didn’t look like I had just learned. I wanted it to look like I had been dancing all my life. It was a challenge but luckily I had great people around me, like my dance instructor and my on-screen partner Kathryn, who guided me in the right direction.
Movies.com: What was your first rehearsal like?
Guzman: It was intimidating. I was surrounded by top dancers who worked with Michael Jackson, Usher and Chris Brown so I honestly didn’t want to get up. I was a little shaky when I saw the dancers in their element but I like to tackle my fears.
Movies.com: Would you say dancing or acting was your biggest challenge?
Guzman: Acting was awesome but the choreography was definitely the hardest. Not being a dancer and trying to learn, and bridging the gap between professional dancers and myself was the hardest thing. Learning in such a small period of time was extremely hard but I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted this movie to be very authentic, no dance doubles, so I had to give it my all.
I actually lost 15 pounds within the first week of just learning the choreography. I was giving it my all without realizing how skinny I was getting so they were force feeding me all this food to get back to my normal weight.
Movies.com: In the previous films we saw a lot of battling but this time it's all about flash mobs. What else makes this movie stand out from the rest?
Guzman: There's definitely no battling anymore. We are bringing back that original storyline that audiences loved from the original Step Up. We invested a lot in the characters and the plot. You expect a certain level of dancing in all these Step Up movies but I think we outdid ourselves with this one. We took it to another level by doing flash mobs now. We're doing contemporary pieces, salsa numbers, and every style of hip-hop you can think of. It's just a fun movie.
The message behind every dance is that everyone has a voice; no matter how small you feel, you can speak up. We're looking to inspire people and help young kids with insecurities.
Movies.com: What does your newfound fame feel like?
Guzman: I don’t think it will ever feel real. To hear that I got fans and that people are following me is still a surreal and weird feeling. I appreciate and love all my fans.
The media has been nice to me so far but if I get compared to Channing one more time…I'm taking it as a compliment but it is crazy how many times people have compared me to him. I don’t know if Magic Mike is in my future but we'll see.
Movies.com: Which actors are you most looking forward to work with?
Guzman: I really want to work with Tom Hardy. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are also on my list. Those are my top three actors. As far as actresses go, Kate Beckinsale, because she's so smokin' hot. If we can pull something off like in New Year's Eve with Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron, an older woman after a young guy….
Movies.com: You would date an older woman?
Guzman: Oh, yeah. Maturity is key for me. As long as you can loosen up and have a good time with me I don’t care about age.
Movies.com: How's your Spanish?
Guzman: I don’t speak Spanish and I get so much crap for it. Oddly enough it was the first language I learned but somehow I lost it throughout the years. I can understand pieces of it but I don’t speak it. I need to speak it. I want to teach my kids Spanish.
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