Alexa Vega has come a long way since she was a spy kid all those years ago. The confident, beautiful 20-year old actress just returned from Australia where she starred in ”Broken Hill” and in time to reflect on her grown up role in the much-underrated ”Repo! The Genetic Opera” which has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. To mark the occasion, Vega spoke exclusively to PAUL FISCHER.
Question: Obviously you’ve evolved a lot since the Spy Kids days, which I think is the last time I spoke to you.
Vega: Yeah. I think it was a while.
Question: What was it about Repo that you really felt that you could identify with? Or, was there something about this girl that you could identify with?
Vega: I think it was really wanting to break into something new and after reading the same teen, like, teen child kind of script thing, it just got really aggravating. Every movie was the same, that they kept offering to me. Nothing really stood out. So I was living in New York, working on Hairspray, on Broadway, when this script kind of came about. And I didn’t know – it was a project that my agents had passed on twice. So when Darren finally got a hold of me, it was almost like – he found me on MySpace, and that’s how we started talking about this project. And it just sounded so interesting, because I love singing. It’s something I’ve always liked. But never really kind of got into. And I thought, what a great way for me to tap into that a little bit more, without doing the whole Disney, cheesy kind of road. I mean, it was just such a special project. You don’t get projects like this. This is kind of the new age Rocky Horror. And not just, like, to go and watch it, but to actually be a part of that? It’s amazing. I mean, we knew when we saw the script that we were going to make something really special and really different. But the problem was, were people going to be ready for it? And some are, some aren’t. Some are still trying to figure that out. I think ultimately we succeeded in what we wanted to do.
Question: Why do you think the film got such a mixed response, and in some instances, quite a vitriolic response when it came out?
Vega: I think it’s very, very different, so it scared, I believe, our distributors. I think it’s something that worried them, because how do you present this? I mean, for somebody who likes horror, they probably thought they don’t like musicals and that’s what they’re worried about. And for somebody who likes musicals, they probably don’t really go for the whole horror thing. So I think the marketing department just kind of dropped us. They were frustrated with, how are they going to put this in two words? And you can’t. You can’t put that movie in two words, because it’s not a typical movie. This is an event. This isn’t just going to a movie. It’s like you’re going to a concert. It’s really fun. But also, on top of that, there are lots of people who don’t really believe in some of our actors. And everybody did an amazing job. I mean, believe me, when I first found out that Paris Hilton was doing this movie, I was shocked, and just hoping for the best. And believe me, I ate my words. She is a marvelous girl, who really proved herself. Yet she was nominated for a Razzie for this movie!
Question: Tell me about your physical look for this, and how much you collaborated with Darren to get the physical look of this character just right.
Vega: Well, we know that Shilo was sickly, so it was something where – you know, I’d come up with something where, like, I didn’t want her to have muscles. I made sure that she was kind of gangly-looking and we made the makeup very, very pale. This girl never sees sunlight. This whole world is pretty dark. So if you look at all the characters, we’re all pretty fair in color, but creating a wardrobe in the style, we just – we’re going for kind of old goth Victorian look. And a other of Shilo’s clothes – we kind of want them to look a little too small at her. Like she’s been trapped, and never been out. And that’s not in the bio-race, so, if you kind of looked at all the outfits, they’re kind of cute, but they’re also very small, and a little constricting for Shilo.
Question: You said that you get offered a lot of teen roles. How old are you now, Alexa?
Vega: I’m 20 now. But I look a lot younger.
Question: How frustrating is it for you to persuade producers and casting people that you’re no longer the girl from the Spy Kids franchise?
Vega: I don’t mind it, just because it really helped me be where I wanted to get to. And it helps me with projects. But it is a problem when you do want to kind of break away, and no one can see other than that. But I think so far, through the years, with different projects that I’ve taken on – I mean, I haven’t really done any big movies that I guess would kind of show a lot of people that I’ve really, really changed. But I’ve done smaller things for HBO, and with Showtime, that are very, very different from the Spy Kids world. And then having Repo, of course, was like, the ultimate thing. I mean, the character grows and changes on screen. I couldn’t have asked for a better transition role. It starts off with – you know, Shilo is this young girl, who’s sheltered. And curious, but not really that confident to go out there. And finally, when she breaks through, she is faced with so many huge decisions that she has to make. And I think through that, she becomes almost kind of like, a young woman, on screen. And it was great to do that arc. Because it was kind of what I’m going through now, trying to find that young girl moving to the young woman stage in my life. And it was kind of perfect for me.
Question: I know that when I was talking to Darren about this movie, I knew he was hoping that the opportunity would present itself to continue the journeys of these characters in a second or third film. Do you think it’s likely, given what happened with the first one, that you could see yourself in a sequel? Or do you think that’s the end?
Vega: Well, I mean, I know that Darren always – from the very, very beginning, we always talked about a prequel or a sequel to this movie. And it’s hard, because as of right now, we all want to do it, but, you know, it didn’t really do as we hoped. And we didn’t really have a lot of support. But we’re hoping that the fans will come back, and it will be an underground cult classic that will grow, and that will eventually spark us to do either the prequel or the sequel to this film. I mean, just because the story’s not yet finished. There’s so much left, kind of, to wonder. “Okay, what happens to GeneCo?” Or, “How did they get here?” Or, you know, “Where’s Shilo going?” So, I mean, there’s so many questions that still need to be answered. And I think that it would be so exciting to get this group together. It’s really rare, when you find people that you really enjoy working with. And I’ve been really fortunate for the last couple films, to have had a really wonderful experience with the people I’m with.
Question: Doing Broadway and doing this movie, does it entice you to go back and do more musicals?
Vega: Well, definitely doing Broadway sparked a completely new interest in me. I don’t think I would have been able to handle the workload on Repo if I didn’t do Hairspray for that year that I was out there. So, it really helped me out a lot with being able to handle that workload. And now that I’ve done it – I mean, it just opened up a whole new kind of genre that I would love to jump into. And hopefully we’ll get another chance. But yeah, it definitely sparked my interest.
Question: So, what is next for you, Alexa?
Vega: I am going to finish filming a pilot for ABC Family. And we found out on the 30th whether it gets picked up or not. It’s called Ruby and the Rockets. I play Ruby. And the producer is Shawn Cassidy, and the star is David Cassidy and Patrick Cassidy.
Question: And what kind of character will you be playing in it?
Vega: I play his daughter that kind of shows up on his doorstep, that he hasn’t really ever met. She’s 16 years old, so I play younger, again and they all sing, so, I may be able to keep on singing.
Question: Do you think you’ll ever work with Robert Rodriguez again?
Vega: Oh, I talk to him all the time. I really hope so. He’s a wonderful man, I don’t see why not.
Question: And are you shooting anything else since Repo, or not?
Vega: Yeah. I filmed a movie in Australia in Adelaide, and then Broken Hill.
Question: What’s the film?
Vega: The film is called Broken Hill. It’s about a young composer, and he’s kind of trapped in this city, and he wants to get out, to break into his music.
Question: Well, I know Broken Hill is a very isolated town. How was it to work in?
Vega: Very isolated. It was so fun. I loved it. The people there are so friendly. And I love the outback. I love being in very remote places. So exciting. It’s probably one of the best shoots I’ve ever, ever had. It really was. And the people we worked with are unbelievable.
Question: Who else was in it with you?
Vega: Timothy Hutton’s in it. The producers and creators of Napoleon Dynamite did this project. So, it was really great.
Question: Are there any Australians in it?
Vega: The only American actors are Timothy Hutton and I. The rest is – I don’t know if you know Rhys Wakefield? He’s Lucas in Home and Away. He’s on that show Home and Away for a while. So, Rhys Wakefield is in it. Introducing Luke Arnold, our lead. And we have a couple other very, very good actors in it.
Question: Well, hopefully we’ll see you in the next Repo movie.
Vega: I hope so.