Actress Alexa Vega believes that the most significant thing that she took away from starring in the “Spy Kids” film franchise is the desire to make the most of her opportunities rather than passing them on to others – especially stunt doubles.
“It was the first time that I ever had to do a lot of stunts on a set,” Vega explains. “[Writer/director Robert Rodriguez] made us tougher. He was constantly making us grow. Now I can take that on to my other films and it is fun being the badass girl on the set who is not afraid to get a little dirty or work a little harder.”
In “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” Jessica Alba plays a retired spy whose step-children (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) step up to save the world from an evil maniac known as the Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven). Enter Vega and her “Spy Kids” costar Daryl Sabara, reprising the characters they originated 10 years ago as Carmen and Juni Cortez.
“This one was fun and it was really cool and weird for Alexa and I to see these two little kids playing these parts that we played 10 years ago and having them be so small,” Sabara says. “It was kind of like a reality check that we were that small and that young doing this and now we are adults. But it was a fun ride and i had a great time doing it.”
For those same reasons, Vega describes her experience returning to the “Spy Kids” franchise a surreal one full of moments that were both happy and sad because the passing of the torch to Blanchard and Cook essentially meant that she and Sabara had officially grown up. However, she could not have been more impressed with their replacements, so to speak.
“I bonded so much with little Rowan,” says Vega, noting that the personal connection she and Sabara had to the franchise made them extra critical of the new “Spy Kids.” “[Blanchard] reminded me so much of myself when I was little. She is really spunky, not really afraid to do things and kind of a tomboy. I like tough girls who can really hold their own.”
Sabara adds that returning to the character of Juni proved to be somewhat of a challenge considering he was essentially a kid and, as such, simply being himself in the first three “Spy Kids” installments. The actor explains that the role required him to find Juni’s mannerisms all over again and, in turn, helped him learn how to have fun.
“Robert has always kept it real and fun,” says Sabara of the filmmaker. “It never really feels like work with him. It always feels like playing a you never get tired being on Robert’s set because you are always just having fun. It was just a fun, playful, family environment and I feel really lucky that those are the sets i grew up on.”
Vega agrees but claims that she did not have any trouble slipping back into the role of Carmen – especially with Sabara back on the set. The actress believes that the relationship that she and her costar share is very much like one of a brother and sister. After all, Vega and Sabara spent nearly every waking moment together for 4 years through productions and press tours.
“It is really funny how as soon as we got on set we fell right back into that bickering brother and sister mode,” says Vega, noting that she kept in touch with Sabara through the years. “A lot of what you see on the screen was not even really written on the page. We just kind of went for it. I hope we have the opportunity to work together more because we have so much fun together.”
Sabara will next appear in Disney’s “John Carter” fantasy flick, which is due in theaters March 9. The actor, who acknowledges that he loves playing different characters, has had no problem whatsoever transitioning from roles for kids to those for adults. Just last year, he appeared in “Machete,” another one of Rodriguez’s projects.
“I feel so lucky that I have gotten to do what I have gotten to do,” says Sabara, who has been directed by Rob Zombie in “Halloween” and starred alongside Robin Williams in “World’s Greatest Dad.” “I could not have paid for better acting classes than to work with Robin and being up close and seeing the genius that he is and learning to be so free.”
Vega is also taking on more grown up roles, such as in last year’s “From Prada to Nada.” However, echoing the theme of “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” the actress recently decided that she should make more of an effort to enjoy her youth – and the roles that come with it – while it lasts based on realization that “once you grow up, you cannot really go back.”
“Coming out of ‘Spy Kids,’ I immediately wanted to do more grown-up roles and I was turning down a lot of the kind of younger, cheesier roles,” says Vega, noting that in a few years she will no longer have a choice in the matter so she has now begun to embrace such roles. “But it is nice to have a little diversity in everything that I do. That way, it keeps it exciting for me and for the audience.”
“Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” (PG – 89 minutes) is now available on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley.