Alexa Vega rose to fame playing the young secret agent Carmen Cortez in Robert Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids” in 2001. Twelve years and a resume full of teenage roles later, Vega is ready to transition into more grown up fare. Helping her make that leap is Rodriguez himself, who cast Vega as the murderous prostitute KillJoy in “Machete Kills.”
You’ve essentially grown up with director Robert Rodriguez, from the first “Spy Kids” movie, now into “Machete Kills.” How has your relationship with Robert evolved?
I started working with Robert when I was 11 years old, on the first “Spy Kids,” and we did three of them, and then 10 years later went back to do a fourth. Throughout that entire period, Robert and I were still very close. He was so much like a father figure in my life. He was there during such huge, pivotal moments and essential growing years, and he was always giving me good advice. I mean, I had my first kiss on his set, he bought me my first car, he walked me down the aisle, and he walked me through the divorce (laughs). He’s literally been there for me through all of it, and to be able to come to a more grown-up role, leading into – hopefully – my adult career, he’s the perfect person to help me make that transition.
Speaking of adult roles: your character KillJoy, through most of the movie, is wearing pretty much nothing at all. Was there any hesitation on your part to show so much skin, or did you just say, “Hey, this is me…I’m an adult”?
Well, it’s funny. I called Robert and said, “Look, I keep playing these 16, 17-year old roles – and don’t get me wrong, I love that. I’m going to milk that for as long as I can. Once I get too old to play those roles, that ship has sailed, so I’ll take advantage of it. But I am ready to start making that transition, so if you have anything in maybe ‘Sin City’ if you could think of me for…” And he’s like, “‘Sin City?!'” and he started laughing. He goes, “That would NEVER happen!”
I was like, “Robert, I’m old enough to do those kind of movie now!” and he said, “No you’re not!” and I said, “I’m 25 years old! How old do you have to be?” He really was kind of shocked. He knew I was 25, but the reality hit him how quickly time has gone by. We were both like, “Let’s just go for it.”
So I went on set and they had all these corset-type outfits, but when I saw those leather chaps, I felt like if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it. That outfit stood out so much compared to the other ones. The others were just your typical sexy outfits, but [the chaps] were just kind of kick-butt, a little harder, a little more KillJoy. That’s what I liked about it. And it’s funny, because if you think about it, I would have shown way more skin if I was in a bikini. But because just a small area is taken away from something that is usually covered up, it makes it seem more risqué than it would have been if I was in a bikini the whole time.
I know the picture of that outfit caused quite a stir when it was released online.
I think everyone was surprised by how much you had grown up when that hit the internet.
It’s funny, because we were talking about the transition. We thought it was going to take a lot longer. We thought it would take a few movies to change peoples’ minds and see me in a grown-up way, but it literally took one photo (laughs).
It’s amazing how the internet works.
Right? Oh my gosh, it’s crazy.
So the film begins with a trailer for “Machete Kills Again…In Space” wherein you have a pretty big role, at least in the trailer. Is that process far along, or was it just for fun?
You know, Robert has always been the man who answers to his audience, and it’s really what the people want. With the first “Machete,” they didn’t even know they were going to make it. He had released a trailer for it in “Grindhouse” with Quentin [Tarantino], and people loved it so much they begged for a Machete film. When they made that, people begged for a sequel because he left it hanging either way. He just decided, “You know what? Whether or not I get to make three, I’m going to throw a little bit of three in there and kind of tease people with it.” Hopefully they respond and we get to make a third one because I would love to. Not to mention, I’m curious as to what space chaps would look like. I’m sure they’ll be interesting…but it’ll probably be a little cold up there.