Phase9 Entertainment


Movie Feature by Reece De Ville

The London Press Conference with Robert Rodriguez, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara.

Why did you choose to make this latest SPY KIDS film in 3D?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: I thought why not? They re-released HOUSE OF WAX on 3D when I was a kid, and it was just a whole different experience seeing the movie. I remember hearing the audience scream because things seemed to be coming out of the screen and I wanted to give that to kids who'd never gotten that experience before. There really hadn't been a family movie made which everyone could go see that utilised this technology.

There have been some dodgy efforts in 3D before though. It requires the right story to really make it work doesn't it?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: I thought if you took the idea of 3D and made it part of the story, you could do something different. Instead of throwing things at the audience occasionally, you could use it to pull the audience into the screen. We go to the cinema to be transported into the movie, but usually you're left sitting there looking at the screen as a spectator. Here, when the character puts on his glasses, the audience puts on their glasses too and they're in that world with them. That's as close to a virtual reality experience as you can get.

Was there more pressure on you this time around, shouldering pretty much the whole film?

DARYL SABARA: I thought it was a lot more fun because I got to do all my own stunts on this movie. I actually went through some intense physical training - for four months, four hours a day, six days a week - with running, weightlifting, jumping and obstacle courses. It was pretty intense but fun. And it got me buff, so you can't complain too much about that.

Daryl, do you enjoy video games?

DARYL SABARA: I play millions of video games, and given the fact that Robert [Rodriguez] has video games on set, that makes it more convenient. But I can't really play all the teenage, mature games. I like to keep it simple.

Alexa, on screen you are trapped in video games - do you play them much in real life?

ALEXA VEGA: We used to have a whole lot of video game sets at home, but then my mom decided that we weren't doing our homework so she kind of flunked that idea. While we were on set we played video games and we have the Gameboys when we travel. But for the most part we don't play them at home.

Your big stunt sequence has you surfing through a sea of lava. What was it like to do?

ALEXA VEGA: There was this contraption shaped like a really wide U, it looked like we were either on a skateboard or snowboard, and we had all these stunt guys pulling us back and forth. I thought it was going to be really weird going up there, and it was, but it was really cool because you really felt like you were up there surfing with all the wind blowing and hearing Robert shout: "There's a monster behind you!". I have to say, that was the best stunt we did. Apart from that it was mostly just walking around in front of the green screen.

How is it for you, working against a green screen and having to imagine all the stuff around you?

DARYL SABARA: Your imagination has to run wild. Since we have the green screen we don't see anything but green. Robert just draws a picture and tells us this is what he thinks the scene is going to look like. While we were using the green screen, we had no idea what was going on and Robert was just shouting "There's a big monster behind you!" He's right there by the camera saying all these things. And that's pretty much how we use the green screen. About 90% of the film was done in that way.

For the second film running you get to sing on the SPY KIDS soundtrack - do you hanker for a career as a rock star?

ALEXA VEGA: That would be nice! Robert asked if I wanted to try a song again and I said "definitely". Then a couple of days before the premiere he asked if I wanted to sing the song live. We were trying to practice everything on stage and it was kind of chaotic. But when it happened it was fun. When I finished I told my mom I wanted to be a rock star, because the rush you get on stage is so great.

Why did you choose Sylvester Stallone for the role of The Toymaker?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: I met him in 1997. I was always a fan of his but I didn't know until then how funny he was in person. I remember thinking that I'd like to work with him one day, not in an action movie but a comedy. Years later I was making SPY KIDS 3 and I thought, this is the time to call him. I offered him five roles - all comedic - in something his kids could see. They can't see any of his other movies - they think he's a professional golfer - but now they'll know he is a movie star and it'll raise the stock with his kids. I know there's nothing more difficult than trying to impress your children.

How did he get on working at your breakneck pace?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: I told Stallone that I'd shoot very differently from anything he's done in Hollywood. I said it'd be shot in Austin, Texas, on a green screen, with a very small crew. It was mainly me and him. None of the actors were there, so he was pretty much on his own. It was pure creative fun and he really got into it. I would change things all the time, and he brought a lot of ideas with him. It was really cool to see him have that much fun.

How did George Clooney get involved with the third picture?

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ: I'd already written him in the script but I didn't tell him because I wanted to figure out when I could film his scene. I called him in March, and said, "Hey, do you know you're in SPY KIDS 3?" He said, "I am?" I said "Yeah, you play the President!" "I do?" I said "Yeah! When can I come and film you?" and he said "Well, I should have some time in May." I said "How about Monday? I'm flying up there already and I got my HD camera, I'll just show up in your living room like last time, I'll set up the camera, two lights and the microphone, and I'll read the off-camera dialogue. The way we're shooting you, you don't even have to wear pants!" And so he came downstairs just wearing shorts on that Monday morning. It was just me and him and it was a blast. Afterwards I said: "Look, you're in a summer movie and it only took 30 minutes!"

You and Alexa Vega have played brother and sister for three films now. How do you get along in real life?

DARYL SABARA: I guess we are like a real brother and sister, we see each other pretty much constantly when we're doing publicity and stuff. We have our arguments but we have our good loveable moments too.

Robert Rodriguez has said this is definitely the last SPY KIDS movie. Were you sad when you heard that your association with Carmen Cortez was at an end?

ALEXA VEGA: I cried like a baby. On the last day of shooting Elijah Wood was on set, telling me it was OK. I was a little embarrassed that he was there and I was crying, but then I was a little embarrassed in front of everyone. It's sad because we've worked with everyone for four years, they've become like my family and they've seen me grow into a teenager. But it's been a wonderful experience, because Robert's given us a real boost and hopefully we can go far in our careers.