Alexa Vega Talks Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Carmen and Juni return to recruit new members for the OSS in this fourth sequel, on Blu-ray and DVD

Alexa Vega is a grown adult, married and continuing to establish herself as a much sought after actress. But when she walks down the street, she still gets recognized as Carmen, from Robert Rodriguez's immensely popular Spy Kids franchise. Some fans can't shake the fact that she's all grown up. It's been since 2003 that the OSS has taken on a new mission. But now, the original Spy Kids are returning in All the Time in the World to take on a new adventure, and it showcases what fine actors both Alexa Vega, and her onscreen brother Daryl Sabara, have grown up to be.

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Spy Kids: All the Time in the World arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week, just in time to enjoy with the family over this long holiday weekend. We recently caught up with Alexa Vega to chat about the movie, the fact that she is no longer a 'kid', and to find out what it was like for her to pass the OSS torch to a whole new generation of children.

Here is our conversation.

You have that moment, when you first arrive on screen, and the new kids ask about Juni. He's been missing, and you give this disgusted look before saying, "We shall not speak of him!" I couldn't help but think you were referencing Daryl Sabara's performance in World's Greatest Dad...

Alexa Vega: (Laughs) Oh my God! I refuse to see that movie. I was just talking to Daryl about it two days ago. I said, "I heard you were fantastic in that...But I will not watch it. I am proud of you. I am sure you did a great job. I cannot, as your sister, watch this movie."

So that is the look you have in your eyes at that moment!

Alexa Vega: I didn't think about it too much at the time. But now that you say it, I think somewhere, deep down, that is were my anger is coming from.

Does he feel the same way about Repo: The Genetic Opera?

Alexa Vega: I don't know if he's seen it. I didn't do anything too crazy in that movie. It is overall, a crazy film. I don't know how he feels about it. That movie is one of those things were you really love it, or you hate it. It has a really cool cult following. I don't expect people who've enjoyed Spy Kids will enjoy Repo! the Genetic Opera!

I imagine it's a little bit like whiplash, especially if you're a kid, to go from one to the other...

Alexa Vega: It could work if you're bi-polar.

What does a day on the Spy Kids set entail? I have to imagine this is a little bit different than your average movie set?

Alexa Vega: With Spy Kids, we were so lucky. We had such an unreal experience. We were truly family. Growing up on a set is completely different than coming onto a brand new set for the first time. You are learning the ropes of that set. You are meeting the crew for the first time. You are getting to know the people that you are working with. With these movies, we did so many of them with the same crew, because Robert Rodriguez uses the same crew on every film. It was a family experience. You would hang out with everybody, and you would hang out with everyone's family. They bring their kids on set. It was almost like a summer camp. It was the most extreme example of a summer camp that you could possibly have. When that ended with Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, there were a lot of tears shed. You get to know all of these people, and you've worked so hard, when you learn its the end, it's a very sad experience. When we heard that we were coming back for a forth movie eight years later...It was so surreal. Walking back up to that set, seeing old props that I hadn't seen since I was thirteen or fourteen, and seeing gadgets that I hadn't held since that time...The best part was seeing the crew again. People were literally crying. They were saying "You are so grown up!" At the time, I had brought my fiance, who is now my husband. They were all freaking out, saying, "We need to meet this guy! We need to make sure he is right for you." That is the protective quality that comes from having a real family on those sets.

I've heard that Robert brings his own kids onto the set. Do they ever stand off stage, offering ideas while you shoot? Are they pretty hands on with the whole process.

Alexa Vega: That is funny! I love Robert's kids! They are very creative. And they have some great opportunities, being on some of the craziest sets ever. But they are so nice and so sweet. I didn't know the youngest girl very well, because she was born after the last film had been shot. I didn't get to know her as well as the first three boys. After the premier for this film, she came up to me and sat in my lap. She looks up at me and goes, "I love you Carmen." I go, "Thank you!" She can't figure out the differnce between Carmen and Alexa. She knows that Alexa is different than Carmen. But she doesn't really know why. She knows she likes me. For them growing up, they have a very cool thing going on.

You are playing a pretty great character that has survived through four films now. At the end of this latest adventure, its set up so that Carmen and Juni are now the head of the OSS. Does this mean you will continue to star in Spy Kids movies for the foreseeable future?

Alexa Vega: Its one of those things, where, whatever Robert is involved with...We have such a trust in his creativeness, just as a person, that we are in. If he asks us to do anything. We trust that he can make these life decisions for us, and we will make another one, hopefully. But you never know. He is constantly coming up with new ideas and new things. He's at such a wonderful place in his life creatively, you are going to see a lot of new, unbelievable things coming from him.

In the movie, we see that scene where Carmen returns to the OSS and all of the costumes, and vehicles, and gadgets are sitting out. Is there a Spy Kids museum there, in the studio?

Alexa Vega: There really is. The studio looks just like a set from Spy Kids. You walk in, and there are cool gadgets and cool robot costumes everywhere. That was the weirdest thing about walking onto this set after eight years of not being a part of these films. They have a whole room, which is the scene where I am showing the kids all the gadgets in the OSS Spy Kids room...Me and Daryl were just looking at each other, just looking at these things, going, "Where has time gone?" I literally felt like we were there yestrday. It was a really weird experience. But it was great.

That kind of fits in with the theme of this particular movie. And I know what you mean. I couldn't believe that Spy Kids 3 came out in 2003. That sounds like a long time ago, but it feels like last year...

Alexa Vega: People are expecting me to still be fourteen years old. It cracks me up, especially when people see me walk by with my husband. They're like, "What? You're married? You're not old enough to be married." Thank you. I'm glad that you think that. I'm glad that I still look young. Everyone else pictures you as a little kid. I'll take it. I want to play young as long as I can. Its fun to freak people out with stuff like that, though!

I talked to Daryl a couple of days ago. He explained that, when he was a kid, acting in these movies, he was pretty much playing himself. As an adult, he had to go back to that performance, to relearn some of those characters nuances he had as a child. Did you experience the same thing in rediscovering Carmen?

Alexa Vega: You know...For me, it was more about fining out what had happened to Carmen and Juni over these missing years. This is eight years later, and Carmen and Juni have had a falling out. Where are they? If you notice, you're not sure if Carmen is bitter. If she's still nice. Robert told me that she was concentrated on the good old days, and that she wanted them back. Juni is a bonehead, and he messed up somewhere. You kind of see that. At the beginning, you can tell that she misses the old days. She's not the bright, happy person that she was right away, but she eventually gets there. She takes these kids under her wing, hoping to get back what she used to have. For me? I sat down with Robert and said, "Tell me what is going on, so I can do it!" I definitely watched the old ones just to see them, because I hadn't seen them in years. I remember watching them when I was young, and that feeling of excitement. Robert had created the coolest characters. We got to be everything that kids wanted to be. Growing up, we'd watch Mission: Impossible and James Bond. Kids were constantly playing that in the neighborhood. We would spy, or get together and come up with cool characters on our own, and play dress up. To be able to have those characters out there, and to have other kids looking up to those characters that you played...It was such a crazy experience. I remember when Daryl and I were watching the movies for the first time. We were both like, "Holy cow! Those characters are really cool!" We couldn't compare them to ourselves, because it didn't feel like we were watching us. We genuinely loved the movies so much. We didn't know how we got so lucky being involved in this kind of experience. When I showed the films to my husband, that was the first time I had watched them in a really long time. He'd never seen them. He was like, "Honey, these are great movies!" I'm like, "Aren't they?" It was great to sit and watch them with someone who'd never seen them before.

What was it like for you to pass the torch onto these two new kids?

Alexa Vega: It was a little happy-sad moment. We were excited, because we were able to bring back this old franchise, and make it new. Hopefully get it started again. I loved playing this Carmen character, and I loved playing her as a kid that could save the world. The biggest thing when you're a kid is having adults tell you, "You can't do this! You can't do that!" Carmen was just such an awesome character. And now she is grown up. She's not a kid anymore. I think we will see a lot of cool things from Carmen in the future.

You had to be a little bit jealous that these new kids got a robot dog?

Alexa Vega: We were cracking up. We didn't know that Ricky Gervais was the voice of the dog until eight months after we shot the film. At that point, we were like, "Sure, they had a dog...But we had Ralph, we had a jetpack..." We were going on about all the cool gadgets that we had. But the second we heard that Ricky Gervais was the voice of the dog, we were like, "Aaaaaah! They got a DOG!" He really nailed it. There are some great jokes for the parents in there.