Interviews: Alexa Vega, Latest Spy Kids on ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D’

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CHICAGO – It’s fun espionage time at the movies this week, as “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D” introduces some new young adventurers to the popular series, Mason Cook and Rowan Blanchard. Former kid Alexa Vega also appears in the film.

It’s been eight years since the third Spy Kids movie, all of them conceived and directed by Robert Rodriguez. As one of the first in 2003 to re-introduce 3D to the cinemas, Rodriguez goes one more with 4D, also known as Aromascope. Audience members will receive a numbered card, and once a number is flashed on the screen, the cards are to be rubbed and sniffed. Yes, you will be able to smell the film.

Spy Kids old and new came to Chicago recently to promote the movie, with the latest kids Mason Cook and Rowan Blachard joining classic kid Alexa Vega for an interview with HollywoodChicago.com.

Mason Cook as Cecil and Alexa Vega as Carmen in ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D’
Mason Cook as Cecil and Alexa Vega as Carmen in ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D’
Photo credit: © Dimension Films

StarAlexa Vega as Carmen Cortez

HollywoodChicago.com: What do remember about the first day on the set when you did the first “Spy Kids?”

Alexa Vega: I remember being extremely excited, I was only 11 years old at the time. It wasn’t the same studios as now [Troublemaker Studios], and we went back and forth between there and another place. It was the ‘safe house’ set, and walking in and seeing all those jet packs lined up in a row, knowing that I was going to be in a harness flying around, it was just surreal. Oh my gosh, I’m really doing this stuff! There was no concept as to what Spy Kids were, it was just a cool movie to be a part of, and I was going in to have a good time. My first day was testing out the harness and jet packs, and I was wondering what it would feel like to fly.

HollywoodChicago.com: What are you most proud of when it comes to the whole series, is there a particular moment in the three previous films where you thought, this is the coolest job in the world?

Vega: Carmen is such a part of me, and being able to play her, she is way cooler that I ever could be in real life. I think what I’m most proud of is that we made entertaining films that are fun for the whole family. We have wonderful messages throughout our films, and it’s about unity, the importance of family and sticking together. Emily Osment’s character in Spy Kids 3 says ‘just because we’re not blood, doesn’t mean we’re not family.’ So it talks about having great friendships as well. As a whole, it taught valuable lessons, and that’s the best thing you can do, be entertaining and teach them something.

HollywoodChicago.com: You’ve welcome many name actors into the Spy Kids world. What do you remember about working with Sylvester Stallone in Spy Kids 3D?

Vega: We started shooting the film without a villain. Rumors started going around that it was going to be Sly Stallone, and I thought it was a joke. Why would Rocky come to your set to be the bad guy? It wasn’t until he showed up and said, ‘you guys are the coolest things ever. My kids love you.’ He was really there, so bizarre. And before we shot anything with him, we had to get in front of the camera to send a video to his kids, to make him a cooler Dad. You don’t get cooler than Rocky, I don’t know how we could make him cooler. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: Since this series relies heavily on both Hispanic heritage and actors, what feedback have you heard from the overall Hispanic community? What does it mean to you?

Vega: It’s huge. Robert has a big Hispanic following and he’s very proud of his culture and where he comes from. I’ve been taking some very Latin-based roles lately, the last film I did was ‘From Prada to Nada.’ It was about these girls who did embrace their heritage, in fact they shunned it. I think that’s a big problem right now. They feel like they have to choose between the Hispanic side or the American side. Both we’re not just one group, we come from two beautiful different cultures that you can embrace. Personally, I like taking projects where I can project my Latina side and I like playing a white girl. [laughs] We can make it cool, and Robert does that in all his films.

HollywoodChicago.com: What can you tell us about Robert Rodriguez that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Vega: It’s hard, because the man does it all, but he is an unbelievable father. Even though he edits, writes, scores and directs all of his films, he still finds the time to be an excellent father, and he found the time to take the role in my life. My parents were separated since I was little, and he jumped in to take that spot in my life. He walked my down the aisle at my wedding. He is truly a wonderful man.

Rowan Blanchard as Rebecca and Mason Cook in ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D’
Rowan Blanchard as Rebecca and Mason Cook in ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D’
Photo credit: © Dimension Films

StarMason Cook as Cecil Wilson

HollywoodChicago.com: You’ve been an actor since you 2008. How did you or your agent find out about the Spy Kids role, and what do you think you did in the audition that got you the part?

Mason Cook: What I think I did in the audition was have a good chemistry with Robert, Rowan and all the other actors. The casting people for the movie called my agent and said that I got the role. I shooting ‘Raising Hope’ [Fox TV series] and I just freaked out and wanted to scream. But it was focus time so I didn’t tell anyone, I kept it a secret on the set.

HollywoodChicago.com: For you, what is the hardest thing about pretending to be somebody else?

Cook: It isn’t hard for me. It’s especially fun when nobody else has played the character and I make the character my own for the whole movie, and the rest of my life.

HollywoodChicago.com: There is so much you have to do in a movie before you actually begin making it. What stuff in all the things you have to do beforehand do you hate the most?

Cook: I don’t think there is anything to not like. Truly. There was five months of auditioning, mix and matches, callbacks, more mix and matches. That was the crazy part of it. Rowan was my last mix and match. I found out she got the role, and it came down to me against someone else.

HollywoodChicago.com: What is the weirdest thing that your director Robert Rodriguez would do on the set to show you how to be a Spy Kid?

Cook: What was funny about him is that when he was telling us what to do he would act it out himself. That was very funny, because he is like a little kid in a grown man’s body.

HollywoodChicago.com: What type of role would you like do if you become an adult actor, and why do you want to do that role?

Cook: I probably would want to be the main character in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies. I am a big fan of those, because I love the action and suspense. I would be the new Tom Cruise.

StarRowan Blanchard as Rebecca Wilson

HollywoodChicago.com: You’ve just completed a show called “Dance-A-Lot Robot.” What is that show all about and who do you play in relationship to the robot?

Rowan Blanchard: I was seven when I did that show. I played Caitlan, and the robot is trying to get everyone to dance, because the whole idea of the show is that kids just are watching TV and they don’t really do much, so they get up and do something while they watch TV. It’s on the Disney, Jr. channel.

HollywoodChicago.com: Your first movie set was playing a kid in “The Back-up Plan.” What is your favorite memory from that first movie set?

Blanchard: My favorite memory was getting to see Jennifer Lopez, because she’s actually known me since I was a baby, because my Dad taught yoga to her. I came back to her when I was eight years old, so it was like ‘hi, Jennifer,’ and she said ‘hi, Rowan, you’re so big!’ I said ‘you’re bigger, too.’ [laughs] It was an awkward but cool moment, talking to a stranger that knew me.

Mason Cook, Alexa Vega, Rowan Blanchard in Chicago, July 22th, 2011
Mason Cook, Alexa Vega, Rowan Blanchard on July 22th, 2011
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

HollywoodChicago.com: What was the best thing about pretending to be a spy kid? Was it all the gadgets or the acting?

Blanchard: That’s a tough question, because the gadgets make the character, as well as the acting. You can’t depend on one, you have to depend on both. Because the character depends on the gadgets. I think gadgets complete the whole spy.

HollywoodChicago.com: How did Alexa and Daryl Sabara, since they’ve played the part before, help you to be a better Spy Kid?

Blanchard: I look up to Alexa, let me just say that.

Vega: Thanks, Rowan!

Blanchard: I grew up watching the Spy Kids, even though I wasn’t alive when the first one came out. [laughs] I watched them all the time, it was a thrill to just meet them. I was totally freak-o!

Vega: I have to say that Rowan and Mason had it down when I showed up on set. The first scene I have is introducing them to all the old Spy Kids gadgets, to revamp the Spy Kid division. So we walk into this room and they knew what all the gadgets did, much better than I did. [laughs] Daryl and I talked about it, because as soon as you hear there are new Spy Kids, we wondered who it would be and what would happen. We just hoped that the kids truly appreciated and knew how awesome it is to be in this position, and both of them did.

HollywoodChicago.com: Who in the shows and movies you’ve worked on gave you the best advice about acting, and what was that advice?

Blanchard: I’d like to say Robert, because he basically discovered me, I hadn’t done anything major before. He personally called me on the phone, and I totally freaked out because I didn’t think that I could get such a big role. His advice was don’t be afraid to be yourself and make the character you want. Not to let the script guide me, but to own the lines. I started to become free with the character, and I built it myself.

“Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D” opens everywhere August 19th. Featuring Alexa Vega, Mason Cook, Rowan Blanchard, Jeremy Piven, Jessica Alba, Joel McHale and Daryl Sabara. Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2011 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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