This is an excerpt. For the complete story, the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of BRINK can be purchased.
Words > McManus Woodend; Styling > The Fashion Office; Styling Assistant > Danielle Leilani Evans
Hair > Arturo Arteaga; MUA > Fidel Gonzalez; Manicurist > Jolene Brodeur
Photos > Jared Kocka
OK. Get ready. Here’s a story about a child star that isn’t littered with tales from rehab, money-stealing parents or managers, or late night debauchery. Disappointed? You shouldn’t be, especially since we’re talking about Alexa Vega. By next level, I mean she could probably kick your ass (in the sweetest way possible, of course). Thankfully, it didn’t come down to fisticuffs when I spoke with her, but we did get down to brass tacks (and metal bras) about having 70 parents, the perfect role, and transitions in that crazy thing called life.
First and foremost, I gotta wish you a happy belated birthday!
It’s actually today, so thank you so much!
It is today, isn’t it? Ah! That’s right.
It is! Today is my birthday! [laughs]
That’s absolutely right. For some reason, I thought the 25th. That, and I’m calling from the future, so I think that might be where the confusion is.
OK, OK; you’re all right. Don’t worry.
Perfect! [laughs] So how’s life been on the tour bus [with Big Time Rush] this summer?
Oh my goodness! I totally was a little groupie this summer. [laughs] It was amazing! I’ve never spent that much time on a tour bus, and it was so much fun. I got to know all the boys really well. They’re all like my brothers, but one thing I will say about the tour bus: they kept it very, very clean … but the farting! [laughs] Boys and their farting! It’s just not containable at all. [laughs]
Too funny. Now, I’ve noticed the first thing a lot of interviews have mentioned about your role in Machete Kills is that it’s ‘the Spy Kids girl all grown up.’ Honestly, at this point, how old is this response getting, or is it a reaction that you’ve prepared for?
I’m very fortunate that kind of role be with Robert Rodriguez, who obviously knows me so well and who’s been there with me since I was 11, so I think we did it without being too over the top. I mean, it’s certainly crazy; what we wear in this movie is pretty intense, but it’s also tasteful and fun. It’s hard because the projects that I’ve taken on have been — for the most part — wholesome or young and for a younger audience. I’m 25 now, so it does kind of shock people who imagine me a lot younger. At the same time, you don’t want to alienate too many audiences, so it has been difficult finding that balance between younger roles and growing into more of a mature audience. I think we did that with this movie because it’s so playful. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously. It’s just a little ridiculous and out there, but really fun at the same time.
The first [Machete] was very kitschy and over the top as far as just being super…
It’s ridiculous. [laughs]
I can only imagine, based on the still that came out with you and Sofia Vergara.
Yeah. [laughs] It’s definitely different.
Was there a particular aspect about playing KillJoy that appealed to you, or basically just the chance to work with Robert Rodriguez again?
Robert and I have been talking for a while about what the right project was to bring me back on, that was a little bit more grown up, and I think he — between Robert and I — we are my toughest critics. [laughs] If I can tell Robert that I’m ready for something, you know, as long as he believes in me, then I think the rest of the people will have my back. He’s very tough on me, but it only makes me work harder and grow. I’ve been so thankful for that relationship; he’s truly been wonderful. I talked to him, and I’m like, ‘You know what, I really wanna do Machete [Kills]. What do you have in Machete [Kills]?’ [Robert Rodriguez] was like, ‘Lexy, you’re so young!’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean young?’ At the time, I was 23, so I worked my butt off, and I convinced him to let me play KillJoy, which at the time was a really small role. When we got on set, he expanded it, and what was a two-day shoot turned into a full week.
Nice. That’s always a good thing.
Yeah, it was really wonderful, but I definitely proved myself. I worked for it.
Do you have a favorite on-set moment from Machete Kills that you’d share?
[laughs] I don’t want to give it away, but basically one of the … so, I grew up with this crew. Robert’s used the same crew for every film since his first movie. He’s very loyal to the people he chooses, so when I showed up on set to shoot KillJoy, I’m in a robe because my outfit’s quite revealing at times. When I first came out — and I had to drop the robe — I just remember it was like having 70 parents on set going, ‘What are you wearing!?’ They were making fun of me, and luckily it was all playful, but I was shy. I grew up with all of these people, so I guess you also have to try to convince them that you are capable of playing this role. I think by the end I had it, but at the beginning, it certainly took a lot of convincing for everyone. [laughs]
I can imagine — especially if the crew is that tight.
Oh my gosh! They’re so protective. But you want that.
Absolutely. Now, does your role in Machete Kills set the tone for what you’d like to see the next phase of your career move to?
Yes and no. I really want a colorful career. I’d like to be able to do all sorts of things. I think you find kick-ass action roles are super cool, but, I’ll be honest, I love playing the younger roles, and you can only do that for so long, so I want to take advantage of that for as long as I can. When that time runs out, I think I can feel the more mature, older roles, but I like it all. I like being tested, and I think with this role — I’ve never done this before — it was certainly nerve-wracking. And I had to fight and work hard for it. I like having to fight for something.
How carefully have you worked with your business team concerning the transition from being a child star into where you want to ultimately end up as an adult and for the rest of your career?
I’ve been really fortunate. The projects that come along have fit really well and the projects that don’t, we pass on them. For the most part, I’ve been very thankful — with wonderful people guiding me — and it comes down to what I want versus what’s out there. It’s hard because a lot of the roles out there, so many of them want you to take all your clothes off. [laughs] It’s not to say that that won’t ever happen, but you certainly want to be picky about something like that. All these young girls, you have to set some example, and I think it’s super tough when they entice you with money for certain roles that you just don’t wanna play. It’s a tough position, but you really have to be strong in what you believe in, and stick to your guns to pass on something.
That happens to journalists, too, so just know that, OK?
[laughs] Good! We’re all in this together!
Exactly. Now, this is a very topical subject — especially since you couldn’t avoid it recently — and it plays in with this transition from being a young star into that phase when you’re in your twenties. So, what’s your take on the whole Miley Cyrus/VMA thing?
Oh gosh! We all watched it. We get that she’s ready to grow up and have a whole different image, but I think you have to do it one step at a time. With Miley, she’s young. She’s a young girl, and I think she’s overwhelming her audiences just a little bit. [laughs] But she’s a talented girl, and I think it’s just a lot of being young and knowing when the right time is to let loose. She might need to take smaller steps. [laughs]
When was the moment you knew Robert Rodriguez would always be there for you, either professionally or personally?
It started when I was really, really young. After we finished Spy Kids 3, I was 14 or 15, and every time he came to town, he would call and take me to dinner. He’d want to know what’s going on in my life. He’s just been a father figure, which I’m so appreciative of. When I turned 16, he bought me my car for my birthday. When I was married, he walked me down the aisle. When I got a divorce, he walked me through the divorce. [laughs]. He’s literally been there at the most pivotal moments of my life, so for that, I’m thankful. At the same time, I’ve been there for him as much as I can be. We’ve both grown so much together and have been through huge, pivotal moments in our lives. We’ve had that perfect father/daughter relationship. It’s been wonderful.
That’s great, especially when you can have that relationship with someone who’s been such a huge part of your life professionally as well.
Completely! He’s been so supportive. That’s why it was so hard convincing him to let me do something like Machete [Kills], because he does view me like a little girl, and to do a role like that is definitely pushing the boundaries a little bit. He’s just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ [laughs] At the same time, if he believes in me, that’s all that matters.
Along with Robert Rodriguez you’ve worked quite a bit with Writer/Director Darren Lynn Bousman. How did that relationship come about?
I was in New York doing Hairspray [on Broadway], which is the happiest singsong show you could possibly do. [Darren] flew out and wanted me to do this crazy kind of Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque film [Repo! The Genetic Opera], and I’ve never done anything that dark before and was worried because I usually pick lighter projects. What I like about the character is she was the light in the dark world, a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, guiding this creepy rock opera. It was so cool. Like I said, I like doing things that test me a little bit — pushed (push?) my boundaries — so we picked up on that and hit it off. Whenever we get a chance, I’ll either sneak in for a quick role on one of his films, or we do shorts because we want an excuse to work together. [laughs]
Are there significant differences between how Rodriguez and Bousman work with you? Or, is it the similarities of their styles that keep bringing you back to them?
They have two completely different styles and both work so well. Robert is very hands-on. He does everything. He does the music, edits the film, writes them, directs them, produces them. He literally does it all. There’s an understanding. He knows how to get me to do exactly what he needs from the character. Our communication is really awesome. With Darren — and he’ll tell you this himself — I love Darren. He’s the most neurotic person I have ever met, and it’s hilarious. When you get him on set, he’ll talk 90-miles-an-hour. He wants to get his movie done, and he’s so excited and all over the place. I love candy, but you cannot let Darren have candy on set. He’s already hyper enough as it is, so I would have like a cup of candy, but I would put another cup on top of my cup of candy so it looked like veggies. If I saw Darren around me, I would pretend like I was eating vegetables. [laughs] My relationship with Darren is like brother and sister. [laughs] He’s so fun.
Great. All right, on the real, how uncomfortable was that metal bra?
Oh! Tod Junker is awesome. He did all the leathers, but what’s awesome about his [Tod] is he literally makes the most comfortable metal bra. The real bra was all padded underneath, nice and comfy. On the outside, they had those metal things on. It was literally a piece of art.
So, they used a little bit of movie magic then?
Oh yeah they did. They rocked, cuz that was tough. [laughs]
Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to talk about?
The only thing I would love to talk about is something that Robert was really adamant about me doing. When I was 13, I came up with this whole story that I really, really liked, and he told me to write it, and I would get it made when I was older. I’m really excited to say that I just finished my first comic book, and it will be out in the next few months! I’m super, super excited! I came up with the idea while filming Spy Kids, so it’s nice to kind of bring it to life. We might be taking it one step further and turning it into a live-action TV show, but I’m definitely excited about the comic book!
What’s the name of the project?
It’s called Suicide Lane. It’s about a crazy awesome chick who rides motorcycles and avenges her father’s death.
That’s pretty much a slam-dunk right there.
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. A badass girl and all her motorcycle chicks are just great. [laughs]
Watch Alexa in Machete Kills out 10/11. Read the interview in its entirety in the Sept./Oct. issue of BRINK.