Marissa’s world is turned upside down when the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) threatens to take over the planet and she’s called back into action by the head of OSS, home of the greatest spies and where the now-defunct Spy Kids division was created. With a little help from a couple of very familiar Spy Kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), they just may be able to save the world and possibly bring their family together while they’re at it.
MoviesOnline sat down with Jessica to talk about playing a spy mom in “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D,” Robert Rodriguez’s latest installment of the Spy Kids franchise. She told us what attracted her to the role, why being a mom in real life has not changed the kinds of roles she considers, and how Rodriguez’s approach to directing this movie compared to “Machete.” She also updated us on the possibility of appearing in the upcoming “Sin City 2.”
Q: Robert said he first told you about the idea on “Machete.” What do you think about playing a spy who’s also a mom?
Jessica Alba: I thought it was cool. I’m a fan of Robert’s Spy Kids movies. I love how he empowers kids in his movies. It’s not just the grown-ups that get to do all the cool action and take part in saving the world. It’s the kids, and so I think that’s really neat. And then, he knew that I wanted to do a kid’s movie after I had my daughter. So when he suggested it, I was cool. The only thing is I thought that maybe I was too young to play the mother of the grown kids. So being a first time mom was fine, but we settled on them being stepkids.
Q: I read in the notes that you told Robert it would be great to incorporate different aspects of a working mother’s life and show how she juggles different things.
Jessica Alba: Yes. It was also nice to see someone in the movie who struggles with it, and who isn’t perfect at doing it all, and is also torn between working or staying home. Those are all things that moms can, or parents really, can relate to. It’s tough to go back to work and it’s tough to spend so much time away from your kid, but then you have to make a living. It’s also important to hang on to your own identity and be a good example. There’s all these things that you struggle with as a parent and I thought it would be nice to have that in the movie.
Q: Did being a mother yourself help you create your character in the movie?
Jessica Alba: I think it was helpful. I don’t know if I would have even done this movie if I wasn’t a parent, so I actually brought my real life experience to work. It was more natural and I’ve been in a lot of those circumstances for sure.
Q: Ten years have passed since the first Spy Kids film came out. Was there anything that needed to be told differently to bring the story to a new generation of kids?
Jessica Alba: No. The first Spy Kids was my favorite. I think the theme of families is timeless, of a family working together and the family unit and trying not to waste time, but instead to really enjoy every moment you have with your family. Those themes resonate ten years ago and ten years from now. They’re timeless themes and I think every kid wants to see a kid save the world and take part in the action and you get to see that in the Spy Kids movies.
Q: Are you going to take your daughter to see this movie?
Jessica Alba: Yes.
Q: Has she seen your other movies before?
Jessica Alba: Nope.
Q: So this will be the first time?
Jessica Alba: Yeah. None of the other movies I’ve done are appropriate.
Q: Has being a mom changed the type of movie roles you consider?
Jessica Alba: Not really. It’s about the time commitment and also the people I’m working with more than anything. I won’t just take a job for a paycheck necessarily. Before, it was more like what’s the distribution, what’s it going to do for my career, how big is the paycheck? It was financial and then it was also career driven. Now, it’s am I going to grow as an actor, is this going to be a challenge, do I absolutely love this character, do I respect the filmmaker, and is it going to be six months out of the year or is it going to be two weeks? And so, I’ve taken jobs that aren’t really time consuming and are more creatively fulfilling.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out this was going to be a 4D movie?
Jessica Alba: I wasn’t really sure what that meant to be quite honest with you. And then, they said oh, they’re going to have a card and then people will be able to interact with the film and then on another level completely. It’s a choice and it’s free and I was like oh, that’s cool. When I was a kid, I loved scratch and sniff stickers. They were like my favorite thing ever. And so, it just brings that element to life in a film.
Q: You see a lot of action in this film. What was the most fun scene for you?
Jessica Alba: I really enjoyed doing the first sequence when I was going through labor and kicking butt. That was fun for me because there’s a lot of comedy in there obviously.
Q: Would you ever consider ziplining like your character does in real life?
Jessica Alba: No, I’m afraid of heights.
Q: You mentioned that the first Spy Kids movie was still your favorite. What is it about that film that makes you say that?
Jessica Alba: I just loved the setting up of the family dynamic and the story. I thought it was something I had never seen before and I feel like it’s something that you can watch now and it’s still really great.
Q: The kids were saying that Robert is like a big kid himself on set. Do you see a difference in energy when he’s directing something like this as opposed to his other films like “Machete,” or is he always a big kid?
Jessica Alba: He is a big kid always. Yeah. He’s just more teenage boy when he’s doing “Machete.” There’s a little kid who’s getting silly and playing with kids and stuff.
Q: What kind of things did you talk with him about in terms of your character?
Jessica Alba: We talked about everything. When we started talking about this character, we just talked about some circumstances she might be put in and what would be funny. It was really about trying to get the funniest moments of what it’s like to be a mom and then have responsibilities with your household and then to be called into work and the world is going to come to an end if you don’t show up. And so, we just played around with as many funny circumstances as we could come up with.
Q: Robert was recently at Comic Con and announced “Sin City 2.” Is that something you’re going to be a part of?
Jessica Alba: If they wrote me in.
Q: If they write you back into it?
Jessica Alba: Yeah. We’ll see.
Q: What’s your ideal next project?
Jessica Alba: I’d like to do an action movie. I haven’t really done action, like real action, since Dark Angel. It’d be really fun to get back in the game and do action.
Q: Do you have any exercise regimen planned after you give birth to help you get back into shape in order to do action scenes?
Jessica Alba: Yes. I would obviously have to train for whatever it is. But after, I do have a workout regimen that I’ll probably follow to lose baby weight.
Q: Does the suit in “Spy Kids 4” look like every new mom’s worst nightmare?
Jessica Alba: It’s so hot. I was sweating so bad. But it had a lot of spandex.
Q: Like Spanks.
Jessica Alba: It was very forgiving. Yes. It was like Spanks.
Q: How do you think you’ve grown as an actress since Dark Angel?
Jessica Alba: I’m much more of a risk taker. I’m more fearless now than when I was 18. I was much more self-aware and I cared too much about what people thought of me and now I really don’t. I probably should.
Q: You have a thicker skin now?
Jessica Alba: I do. I’m just like, if you don’t like it, then whatever, moving on. It’s not the end of the world. Whereas when I was doing Dark Angel, I was such a people pleaser.
Q: Joe has two kids and you have one and another one on the way. What did you talk about as parents?
Jessica Alba: We like to dish on the funniest things usually or things that happened in the moment. I can’t think of anything specifically, but we would just share stories of “Oh, and then this one time…” Or, “I just got off the phone with my kid and da, da, da.” Nothing I can really remember that was like this big momentous thing that we shared with each other. It’s just day to day stuff.
Q: Is there anything that you have in production right now or is having your child the next thing? Do you have anything lined up?
Jessica Alba: I’m working on a TV show and a movie idea with two different writers and directors, and then I’m working on a baby line that I’ve been working on for two years that’s going to come out in the Fall. I’ve been working on that, and once I get my body back together and I’m mentally ready to get back to work, I’m really going to be looking for an action movie.
Q: Will having the baby line be something that you can do as a mom and work on from home?
Jessica Alba: Yes, it’s going to be online. I have an office and I work out of the office.
Q: Were you able to bond with or mentor the kids in the movie?
Jessica Alba: Not really mentor, but yes, we hung out and bonded, I guess. Actually their studio teacher was my very first studio teacher when I was a kid which is funny. I was like “Oh my God, I remember you from Camp Nowhere. That’s so weird and you look exactly the same. How is that possible?” He really looks exactly the same.
Q: How did you spend the time with Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook on set and what was it like working with them?
Jessica Alba: We just hung out. They were cute. They’re cute kids. They have lots of energy. They both talk a mile a minute and tell you everything. They’re very sweet.
Q: Is pregnancy the second time around easier and do you have any crazy cravings?
Jessica Alba: We’ll see. I really crave watermelon. I think it’s because it’s summer and it’s hot. I think a lot of people probably crave watermelon.
“Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D” opens in theaters on August 19th.