Best known for her role in the “Spy Kids” franchise and films like “Repo: The Genetic Opera” and “Machete Kills,” actress Alexa Vega is having a busy 2014. This year, she stars in Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For” and in the end-of-days horror film “The Remaining.” In “The Remaining,” Vega plays Skylar, a young woman who finds herself in an Apocalyptic scenario of Biblical proportions on the day of her wedding.
During our interview, Vega, 25, talked to me about how she's focused on finding roles that are first and foremost fulfilling to her, why religion plays an important part in her life, and whether or not she really believes the world is going to end in a hailstorm of fire and brimstone..
Before we get into your new film, the “Sin City 2” trailer just came out of Comic Con in San Diego today. Have you seen it?
You know, I just found out. I haven’t seen it yet. (Laughs) So, what is happening in the trailer?
Well, there are a lot of things happening in the trailer. There is a nice little shot of you dancing on a bar top and giving Jessica Alba a run for her money.
Oh, boy. (Laughs) Well, I’m eager to see this trailer. We’ve been so busy over here. I haven’t been to Comic Con. I’ve been out of town. I’ve been missing a lot of the scoop. I need to get caught up.
In “Machete Kills,” you said you kind of had to beg director Robert Rodriguez for a part in that movie. I guess you were able to get through to him for a movie like this where you’re revealing a little more.
You know, it’s so funny because I keep on going back and forth on what is the right decision and how do I make that transition [into more adult roles]. You have to be so careful because you don’t wan to jump over too quickly. I definitely think that this role is pushing it a little bit. I doesn’t have anything horrible at all. I think dancing on the bar is probably the worst of it. But I’ve never played sexy roles like this before. “Machete Kills” was kind of the first thing. I literally shot [“Sin City 2”] right after “Machete.” It’s so different from anything I’ve done. You just want to make sure you don’t alienate your audience or don’t lose your fans along the way. Now, I’m so much pickier as to what [roles] I take. You don’t want people to know what you’re going to do next. You want to keep people guessing. I don’t want people to think, “That girl is predictable.” For me, I think I’m really going to start changing it up with the [roles] I take. The actors I admire…like Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp and Gary Oldman…they’re unpredictable with the jobs they take. Johnny Depp is hardly recognizable from character to character. The depth Meryl Streep has with every character she takes and how she changes [those characters] is amazing. I feel like even if I watch a Meryl Streep movie and we know she’s going to be amazing, you’re never like, “Oh, that’s just Meryl Streep again.” You dive in with her. That’s kind of how I want my career to go.
You know, Meryl Streep could probably stay unpredictable if she danced on top of a bar in her next movie.
(Laughs) Yeah, we should get her in “Sin City 3!” (Laughs) I’m sure she’d be down to do it, too!
Do you think it’s important for you to change your image at this point in your career? We know you as the little girl from the “Spy Kids” movies, but is that the advice you’re getting from the people around you?
I just think you kind of have to gradually make that decision as you grow. I don’t want to alienate the awesome fans that have grown up with me and the younger fans who are still out there. You can only play young for so long and then your time is up. So, instead of running away from it, I’m embracing it for as long as I can. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. (Laughs) With that said, you also want to fulfill yourself with the roles you're playing. Right now, for me, it’s not about the most strategic move. It’s about what is fulfilling for me. We’ve done the strategic moves. We’ve done the moves that we’re supposed to do. At the end of the day, you have to do what is fulfilling for you or it becomes work. There are days that are harder than others, but I love my job. You do a movie that pays the bills and then you do a movie that you really want to do.
Something that seems a lot different than what you’ve done in the past is your next movie, “The Remaining.” I think the end of the world is probably something at the top of the list of things you don’t want to happen at your wedding.
Oh my God, yes! It’s the last thing you would want to happen at your wedding! (Laughs) It’s so funny because I don’t like horror or scary movies. To me, [horror movies] are so freaky and I get scared so easily. It’s funny actually working on one because while everybody else is laughing and playing around, I am genuinely freaked out. There are all these extras covered in cut and bruises and playing dead. Meanwhile, cars are flipped over and things are on fire. All the elements are there. There wasn’t much acting involved (Laughs). What drew me to the project was that I liked how universal [the story] is. Whether you’re watching this movie in Japan or America or Mexico, thrillers translate wherever. That scariness translates over and I love that. It’s about the Rapture, so it makes you think. By the end of the movie, you’re questioning yourself like, “What would I do if I was in the Rapture?”
With a show like “The Leftovers” on HBO, this is definitely a theme people are currently flocking to. You have to admit, this is a great time to be releasing a film like this.
Yeah, it’s so funny because we shot [“The Remaining”] a few years ago. The fact that “The Leftovers” is on now and you have more of these faith-based films, it’s really interesting to see how they’re coming out all at once. Whether you’re religious or not, when you have religion behind a movie like a thriller, it makes it so much scarier. Anytime you have those demon movies, I can’t watch it. I’ll get nightmares. Even with the trailers, I have to look away. That stuff just scares the crap out of me. I feel like when movies have that religious aspect, it makes it all too real. It hits you at your core.
There have been a lot of religious-themed movies that have come out this year like “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven is For Real,” but I’m thinking “The Remaining” might be a little different.
That’s what I like about this movie. Whether you’re religious or not, this is something you can enjoy. If you happen to be religious, it’s that more powerful. For me, my faith is everything. It’s super important to me. I love being entertained, so it's great having those two things together in something that is not corny or typical. Like, “Here’s a Christian movie that we’re making.” Those are so cheesy. [“The Remaining’] is scary. If you read the story of the Rapture in the Bible, it is the scariest thing! It is not fun! I feel like [the film] hits all those aspects. There are happy moments in the Bible. This is not one of them. The creatures that come out of the sky and the way they’re described in the Bible and the way they were created and their wings, they look like a Dementor meets a hornet. It’s such a creepy creature and they did a great job with them. It’s haunting. I watched it with my husband before we went to sleep and we both were freaked out of our minds. (Laughs) We had nightmares all night long. It’s horrible because I want to say I loved the movie…but it just scared me so badly!
Since you brought up the Bible, I’m wondering if those events that take place in the Book of Revelations like fire and brimstone or seas turning into blood or beasts rising from the earth are something you believe will actually happen.
You know, it can sounds crazy, but in my faith, I believe that book, so if it says it’s going to happen, I have to believe it’s going to happen. But it’s something you don’t want to think about. It’s certainly not like, “Oh, I can’t wait until this day comes!” It’s one of those things you put to the back of your head.
So, is this something you were taught at church growing up?
Well, I mean, kind of. I grew up in a religious home for a certain amount of time, but after a while my family stopped going to church and I found [religion] on my own as I got older. I mean, I met my husband at Bible study. For us, it’s the core of everything we do. We just want to do good things and be as helpful as we can be and be positive role models. Our faith and paying it forward is No. 1 for us.
Some people might think what you believe is way off base and that the Bible shouldn’t be interpreted so literally. How do you defend those beliefs?
You know, I have a lot of friends who don’t believe in the Bible at all. I just have a lot of faith and so does my husband. You just have to know where your heart is. You can defend yourself as much as you want, but it’s not until somebody wants to truly listen and has the time where you can truly break things down for them. When you read the Bible, it’s really clear on what it is saying. When people try to interpret it in different ways, the real meaning gets lost. I feel people get so caught up on religion they lose sight on what we’re really supposed to be focused on. For people who get caught up and say, “How do you believe that?” they’re missing the point about loving one another and being supportive. We have a Bible study at our house every Monday. We call ours the Kindergarten Bible Study. We want to make it as easy as possible to understand. All the stuff [in the Bible] is so overwhelming. It’s not something you can learn overnight. It’s not something you can learn in a week. It takes a lot of faith and growing. For us, it’s a lifestyle that has given us so much. I wake up and go to our prayer room every morning. It starts my day off right.