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We're Hangin' With........Carmen and Juni
ALEXA VEGA AND DARYL SABARA
By: Lynn B.
Those Spy Kids are, as the poster says "slightly larger" than when we last saw them. Alexa Vega, who plays Carmen in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, will turn 14 this month and Daryl Sabara (Juni) is now 10. Daryl is still the carrot-topped ball of energy we expected but Alexa is.. a blonde (almost). When we met with the kids in L.A. we almost didn't recognize Alexa with her blonde-streaked hair swept back in a pony tail and her fancy beaded top. It's obvious that the actors had a great time making the film. They told us about their adventures and their lives at home as "regular" kids.
Alexa, who is half Colombian, grew up on a horse farm in Florida. "All the people that worked there were Spanish speaking and they were the sweetest people. I learned my Spanish from them just being around." Moving to California to pursue her career meant a big lifestyle change. "For about six months before we moved to California we were dropping horses off that we sold because we couldn't take them to California". Her first audition was for a part in the Evening Shade t.v. series with Burt Reynolds. She nailed it.
Having a little brother, even in film, is a novel concept for the actress. "When you call our house it's like 'Hi. You've reached the girls' house'. It's nice to have all sisters because then you can share clothes with everyone. You can all take showers together because you're all girls. I kind of think if you throw a boy in there" she trails off. "Anyway, I think that's what makes our family special is that it's all girls". Yes, she admits that Daryl is the little bro she never had. "Our relationship is kind of like with my sisters. My sisters and I are really close. We'll still like bicker and everything but we don't fight". Daryl has his own unique sibling situation. "I have a twin brother. His name is Evan and we're fraternal twins so he's my best friend and I'm his best friend. He goes everywhere with me. "He was in Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2". Daryl's best new bud is his pup. "We adopted a Jack Russell. He kind of likes to dig so we're trying to find all his fun toys. We take him on walks and we lose the leash".
Alexa confided that the fame she achieved after making the first film had its pros and cons. "All of a sudden, when [the film came] out people are going 'wait a minute'. But luckily I dyed my hair back to blonde and people didn't recognize me as much but they were still going 'oh are you that girl?'. It's definitely different but I'm happy that I have my blonde hair because I get to go places and not always be bothered when I want to spend time with my family. [But] you see Britney Spears and everybody knows who she is and she never gets a break".
Alexa is comfortable hanging with her guy friends. She told us that she dresses down when not doing press events. "I dress in either jeans and a white tee-shirt or Abercrombie and Fitch baggy cargo pants. I only hang out with guys. I'm not your average girl. I don't like the whole gossipy, weird thing because some girls talk behind your back. You tell them one thing, it turns into another thing and everybody knows".
For Daryl, who wants to direct when he's older, it's just business as usual. "Nothing really changed. I still do the same stuff I've always been doing. I still do ballet. I still take Tai Kwan Do and I'm going to test for my blue belt in August. And I got a new dog and I still like to surf and stuff. I get recognized a lot so I just enjoy it. Not too many people look like me".
By "Spy 2" these young actors must be action pros. According to Daryl, they got to do most of their stunts. Alexa says the two go as far as kids are allowed to go. "It was a lot of fun but in action movies like James Bond they can have like exploding cars going out of control. So I don't think I've hit the full on action but I'm getting there". The actors filmed several weeks in Costa Rica where the heat made an impact on stunt work. According to Daryl, "We had to wear leather jackets and stuff and the one scene that was a lot of fun but it was pretty hard is when our [bubble] suits had to deflate and we had to crawl up onto the beach. It was hard because they were soaking wet".
Alexa, who brought her whole family along, was impressed with the beauty of the country and the opportunities for fun. "The water, it was perfect. It was just amazing and we were looking for a place to rent surfboards there. We went body surfing and it was so beautiful out there. We would stay up till eleven and it would be raining and everything but we'd be playing hide and go seek or tag. On work nights eleven is pretty late for us but in the morning we'd wake up at four a.m. to go searching around in the jungle for monkeys. It would get light probably around four fifteen. It was a great experience. They have all these little open towns where people just walk around. They don't use cars".
Spy Kids 2 is packed with new and fascinating gadgets and designer animals. Alexa and Daryl had favorites. Daryl went for his pet spider/robot Ralph and was impressed with the spider-ape. Alexa made another choice. "I like Ralph but, I'm going to have to go with the spider climbers [gadgets attached to the fingers that make spider-man style climbing a cinch]. Those are so cool. I always say the watch and the watch is really cool but spider climbers are so different. They're awesome". But could she out-climb Spider-Man? "Oh, no way. Not with those things. Maybe with my jet pack, I'd be like 'see ya, poof!'".
Both young stars got to put their singing and dancing talents on display in the new film. Daryl plays guitar and does a ballet routine and Alexa hip-hops and sings, pop star style. "Robert [Rodriguez, the director] got the idea when we had a talent show at the wrap party. Robert calls me up on the telephone and he goes 'I've got an idea but I need to hear your voice. Sing to me right now'. I ended up singing 'When you Believe' by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. He goes 'I don't know. Okay, you passed'". The whole idea of shooting a music video was nerve-wracking. "When we shot the video I was really sick. I was throwing up. I had the worst voice. I wish I wasn't sick because I could have sounded better but it was still fun". Hey, we think she sounded fine.
Alexa's singing isn't a new phenomenon in her life. But, is she ready to be a J-Lo style crossover star? "I would love to be a singer and, trust me, ask my mom, I'm constantly singing at home. You look at Jennifer Lopez. She's a great actress but yet a great singer. Because of doing hip hop off and on for four years, I've kind of started to get there dancing". The actress believes in listening to music that fits her mood. "If I'm writing like scripts at home, I'll listen to Beethoven and it gets me into an action scene. But then I love listening to Lincoln Park and Britney Spears. I'm very diverse with all that stuff". She would love to sing a duet with Shakira, J-Lo and Elton John! Daryl is a retro-boy when it comes to tunes. "My favorite thing is pretty much like The Beatles and The Eagles and Cheryl Crow".
Daryl did some nifty ballet moves in the film. "Robert's sisters helped me choreograph. I've been taking ballet for seven years and my company is South Bay Ballet Company". For his music video, guitar-riff routine, Daryl listened to AC-DC, Stevie Ray Bond and Carlos Santana and planned his out outfit. "I'm wearing this [indicates his gold OSS dome ring] so I wanted to put a little style in it like the schoolboy clothes, the roller shoes and the gold ring".
Alexa also co-starred with Matt O'Leary, a hot teen actor who recently starred in the film Frailty. She admits an attraction that existed from the first casting session when she and director Rodriguez made their picks. "The very first day that I met him, I'm going 'oh my gosh that guy is so cute!' A couple of guys came in and I got to read with them and then as soon as they would leave Robert would go 'what did you think of this guy?' I had actually worked with one guy so I felt really bad but Matt had [the] Gary [character] down like perfect'". As the shooting progressed, things calmed down a bit. "It kind of went away because Matt is like a great friend and I don't picture him as anything else but he flirts with girls every time we go anywhere. He's like 'hey'. I'm like 'Matt, just stop that'".
We wondered what the teen looks for in a date. "I like them to be sweet, charming and they just have to be nice to other people, not just nice to me. That's what I can't stand. Or when they don't know that I'm "the Spy Kid" and they're really mean to me and then when they find out they go 'oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. I didn't know' and all of a sudden they're your best friend. It's so weird. You see people's true colors".
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