Rushing For a New Premium- Bike Week


Photo courtesy of Scott LaPierre.

In the new film, Premium Rush, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a New York bike courier caught in the midst of an international heist, a job both action-packed and dangerous as far as the average career is concerned. While the real-life gig might not be as thrill-enhanced, according to Austin Osmer, the star’s stunt double in the movie, it’s a pretty good job.

Osmer, a 30-year-old bike messenger and spokesperson for the New York Bike Messenger Association, filled Gordon-Levitt’s shoes while shooting many of the riding scenes in the thriller movie, and describes the experience as both “awesome” and considerably lucrative. The only downside, he says, were the early morning call times.

“I made more money than I ever have in my life [on the film set],” Osmer tells BTR, noting the average pay for a bike messenger can be anywhere from $200 to $1,000 a week.

Overall, Osmer describes Premium Rush as a sensationalized look at his trade. The movie, shot in New York City and also starring Michael Shannon, tells the story of a man in the midst of a battle between the city police and the Chinese mob. All relevant parties follow closely on the heels of Gordon-Levitt’s character, chasing him to retrieve one very valuable delivery.

According to Osmer, the real day job is not quite as high-speed, but  nevertheless, it can get racy at times.

“I guess [the movie] is sort of like the most awesome day at work you could ever have,” he remarks. “If it was really touching on the nitty-gritty … you’d just be watching people hand each other envelopes.”

In fact, Gordon-Levitt found himself pretty badly beaten one day on set. According to The Wall Street Journal, the actor crashed his bicycle into a taxicab when he lost control while filming, sending him flying through the rear windscreen and slashing his arm. The injury sent him to the hospital for reportedly 31 stitches.

For his routine gig, Osmer can sometimes relate, though he says he spends most of his 9-to-5 delivering envelopes for construction companies, fashion labels, and law firms among other clients around Manhattan. It’s rain or shine – every day’s different, but along with the many perks, Osmer has also experienced a few roadblocks, including getting hit by a car, punched by drivers in the city, and suffering through at least one run-in with the law.

“Someone called the cops on me because they thought I was serving them,” he recalls. “They were being sued by someone, and that’s what they thought I was delivering, but instead I was bringing them a check.”

Osmer prefers not to reveal the details of his retaliatory efforts after getting socked by an impatient New York driver, and adds that the only real negative side to his employment is the “lack of long-term options.”

For now, it seems, being a courier is a decent means to an end for Osmer, though perhaps a burgeoning career in Hollywood might expand his opportunities.