'Spy Kids' Star Alexa Vega on 'Owning My Sexuality' for New 'Machete Kills' Role
The actress talks to THR about her provocative role in Robert Rodriguez's upcoming movie and what it means for her career.
Alexa Vega has embraced her Latina background while working in the industry -- now the 24-year-old actress is embracing her sexuality with a risque role in the upcoming Machete Kills.
Earlier in July, Vega teased her character's provocative look on the web, tweeting, "RR gave the ok for a sneak peek… @machetekills KillJoy." This release came around the same time other character posters were revealed for the film. This included the surprise of a Lady Gaga character poster for her Le Cameleon.
"The first time I walked out in my outfit on set, everyone was like, 'Wow, you're not allowed to wear that!'" Vega recalled to The Hollywood Reporter.
While Vega wouldn't reveal any more details about the scandalous nature of her outfit, she did say it pushes the boundaries. Stepping out wearing that in front of the crew was the "weirdest thing," she said, because she "grew up with this crew, so it was like being surrounded by a bunch of parents."
To her, working with this crew felt very much like family. It was the reason she was comfortable enough to move forward on the project. Robert Rodriguez is directing the sequel to his Machete, which stemmed from a faux trailer that premiered in the collaborative project Grindhouse with Quentin Tarantino. Rodriguez has remained good friends with Vega since the first Spy Kids movie in 2001, which Vega worked on with the director when she was just 11 years old.
"Every time he comes to town, we hang out," she tells THR. "One day he told me, 'I have a role for you, but I don't know if you're ready to do this.'"
The role was KillJoy, a hitwoman whom Vega describes as the "bodyguard of a whore house." This is definitely new territory for the young actress who might otherwise be remembered as Carmen Cortez in Rodriguez's kids action movie Spy Kids, which spawned two sequels (one in 3D) and a fourth iteration just last year. Vega at the time shared the screen with Antonio Banderas, a Latino actor she looked up to when she was younger. Now Vega's out to command the screen all her own.
"I've never done anything like this," she said. "I'd never felt comfortable enough, and I never thought this would be the project where I'd take a step forward." While appearing in Machete Kills marks the most drastic change from previous roles, the actress has already matured since her Spy Kids days.
One of her favorite roles was in 2006's Walkout from HBO Films. Based on the true story of a 1968 racial protest in Los Angeles, Vega played Paula, the student activist who staged a walkout at five high schools.
"With a piece like that, you're serving history justice," she said about the movie. "There is something about playing an edgier role. You just have to focus on what you're making, and I want to test my boundaries."
Vega also played the titular character on Ruby & the Rockits, which had a one-season run on ABC Family in 2009. A year prior she appeared in the outlandish gory musical Repo! The Genetic Opera, but even in that Vega describes her character as light. "My characters have always been light, and (KillJoy) is the first role to challenge that."
Machete Kills recently wrapped filming, and Vega worked with the Emmy-nominated Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara, whom she met for the first time on set. "What a bombshell," Vega recalled. "She is so funny. In one scene involving a gun, she was holding it like it was a foreign object."
Along with Vergara, the cast is an eclectic blend including Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Vanessa Hudgens, Demian Bichir and Lady Gaga along with those returning, Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez.
"This was all about owning my sexuality," Vega said on reuniting with director Rodriguez and tackling the character of KillJoy. "I worked really hard for it in a way that I never had to work hard for something before." As for future roles, Vega said she wants to continue exploring and keep people guessing.
Machete Kills hits theaters in 2013.