Gavin Schmitt Interviews Actress Alexa Vega
Alexa Vega is an actress and singer, best known for her role as Carmen Cortez in the “Spy Kids” film series and Shilo Wallace in the film “Repo! The Genetic Opera”. (affiliate link) In 2009, she starred as the title character Ruby Gallagher in the ABC Family series “Ruby & The Rockits”.
This interview is from November 2011.
GS: I’ve noticed in your credits that you have a history of playing the daughter role alongside very famous actors. Steven Seagal, Alec Baldwin…
AV: I’ve gotten to work with some really awesome people. I think the coolest would have to be a toss up between Antonio Banderas and Anthony Stewart Head (“Repo!”). When I was nine years old, I did a movie called “NetForce” (1999) with Scott Bakula. Years, years ago. A lot of the things I did as a kid have blended together in my memory. The significant ones stand out, like “Twister”, because that was such a crazy experience. I remember every day on that set. There were real tornadoes that we had to go underground and hide from while shooting. That was insane. But it’s hard to remember a lot of it, I was so young.
GS: If this is too personal, just say pass, but can you confirm a rumor on the internet that your father worked for the CIA at one point?
AV: I actually don’t know. My father and I have been out of communication for a long time, almost my whole life. But luckily, Robert Rodriguez has really taken me under his wing and has been a great father figure for me. He walked me down the aisle when I got married last year. [Vega married “Napoleon Dynamite” (affiliate link) producer Sean Covel on October 10, 2010.] Robert is such a wonderful, wonderful guy. He’s really been there for me. He even bought me my first car when I turned 16. He’s genuinely such an amazing man, I don’t know how he does it all. A writer, director, producer… and a dad of so many children. Besides me and his unofficial kids, he has five of his own.
GS: How does Robert balance making kid films like “Spy Kids” and more adult features like “Planet Terror”. It’s hard to believe the same guy is responsible for both.
AV: You have to picture it this way: if we can go to the movies and enjoy a movie like “Spy Kids” and go to the movies and enjoy a movie like “Planet Terror”, that’s how his mind works. “Spy Kids” is insane and crazy and comes from the point of view of a child and their imagination, wishing they could take over the world. Robert is a grown-up, but he thinks like a kid and asks, “What would be the craziest thing I could do?” This same process leads to “Planet Terror” or “Machete”. He takes his imagination in different directions, pushes the limit and goes for it. With all of these movies, there is actually a similarity to them. They might seem completely different, but they all have a “Robert touch”. One is for children and one is not, but they all have that Robert touch, which is really unique and really cool.
GS: My favorite movie of yours has to be “Repo! The Genetic Opera”.
AV: [Repo! The Genetic Opera] (affiliate link) is my favorite movie that I have ever been a part of. It’s an awesome, awesome film. Not a lot of people know about it, and probably not a lot of people like it. (laughs) For the people who do enjoy it, it’s become a cult film. I had the pleasure of working with amazing people on that movie. We created something that was very special, very different, and will be talked about for years whether people liked it or not.
GS: Did you have any anecdote of working with Joan Jett, Paris Hilton or any of these other larger than life figures?
AV: Holy crap, some amazing people. I had the pleasure of working with Sarah Brightman, and talk about intimidating. She’s the nicest lady and there’s nothing intimidating about her when you meet her, but just the idea of who she is and how amazingly talented she is. And she’s also a badass! She walks in, she has a tiny figure and always wears corsets, but then has this English accent that… wow! She’s just so badass, because when she brings it, she brings it! With that role of Blind Mag, which is so unique, she just owned it. She really did.
GS: Being friends with Darren Lynn Bousman, you made a cameo in his remake of “Mother’s Day” (2010).
AV: Yeah. Unfortunately, Lloyd Kaufman wasn’t on set. At least not when I was there. I only stopped in briefly as a favor to Darren. He called me up and said, “Come up to Canada next week, I need you to stab a girl to death.” And I thought, “Wow, that’s a way to get someone to go to Canada.” He said, “Come on, it’s a crazy film, and it’s nothing like what you’ve done before.” And I asked, “Well, what about ‘Repo’?” (affiliate link) And he says, “It’s like a different version of that.” And that got me up there, but I only filmed for two days.
GS: For “Spy Kids 4”, you’ve come full circle, and now rather than being a child you’re the adult who trains the next generation of spy kids…
AV: It’s just surreal. When you come back for the fourth installment of a franchise you’ve been a part of, it’s exciting, but after the third there was such a big gap we didn’t really think we were ever coming back to do another one. And now that you’re no longer the kid, but rather the grown-up, there’s this sense of jealousy that creeps in. “Oh, so what new kids are they hiring? Are they going to be as cool as we were?” But the truth is, these kids were fantastic, and it was cool to pass the torch and move on. There’s still the end of the dream and we’re not the cute little kids anymore. Rowan Blanchard is great, and actually reminds me a lot of myself growing up. A little bit of a tomboy and not afraid to go for it. I like that in young girls. A lot of times, especially in Hollywood, they have these little actresses and they’re awful. But Rowan is both adorable and spunky.
GS: Let’s wrap this up by talking about Danny Trejo. I met him a while back and my first impression was that a) he is really short and b) he’s a lot of fun.
AV: Just like Robert, Danny and I have a great relationship. We call each other up just to see how the other is doing, check up on each other. My favorite Danny moment — and I’ve had a lot of wonderful Danny moments — was when I was at an event and I see him there. He runs over and says, “Hey, Alexa, what’s up? It’s your Uncle Machete!” He always calls himself Uncle Machete, which is really funny. And then he’s like, “Hey, who’s this guy?” and points to the man behind me, Sean. “Danny, this is my fiancé.” And he’s like, “What!? What do you mean your fiancé.” “Yeah, Danny, this is my fiancé Sean.” So then Danny gets really close to Sean, and Sean is 6’4″ but Danny is really intimidating. So Sean is sort of cowering and hesitantly says, “Hi, I’m Sean, nice to meet you.” And Danny’s in his face saying, “You think you’re good enough for her? Are you? We’ll see about that!” Then he walked off and the two didn’t meet again until a later date. It was really funny, because Danny always plays the powerful uncle and Sean didn’t know.
GS: That’s awesome! Thanks so much Alexa!
AV: Thank you, Gavin! Happy Thanksgiving!