Jessica Alba was having an art imitates life moment when she made Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World 4D. Alba portrays Marissa Wilson in Spy Kids 4, an international spy who is nine months pregnant when the film commences.
While promoting the film, Alba was also nine months pregnant (in fact, Alba gave birth to daughter Haven Garner earlier this week). Alba stars with Community's Joel McHale as parents on the verge of the beautiful world of parenthood. In a True Lies meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith-like twist, neither knows what the other does for a living. Alba is a spy while McHale’s Wilbur Wilson is a spy hunter.
Spy Kids 4 marks a pattern for the actress who became a star with her TV turn in Dark Angel. The fourth film in the Spy Kids franchise is the third film Alba has appeared in for director Robert Rodriguez after Sin City and Machete.
Alba was in Beverly Hills chatting about her latest film foray, what it is about the Rodriguez-Alba tandem that works so well for her, and yes, how real life resonated through the fictional story of Spy Kids 4.
Movie Fanatic: Working with Robert Rodriguez is becoming a habit for you. What is it about his set that keeps calling you back?
Jessica Alba: Growing up, we come from a similar cultural background. We’re both Mexican-American and we grew up with a lot of the same traditions. We’ve shared stories about the way we grew up, and they’re quite similar in the way that our families raised us. We just have a comfort and a shorthand with each other. We always have -- and we’re friends. I respect him completely as an artist. I trust him. I’m not sitting there, resisting everything he says and fighting and arguing with him. We don’t have that relationship. Although sometimes I disagree, most of the time, we always seem to find some common ground.
Movie Fanatic: Robert has said that Sin City 2 is all but ready to start filming. Are you game to return?
Jessica Alba: Of course!
Movie Fanatic: You are no stranger to action films. How were the physical requirements of Spy Kids 4 different for you, especially considering you’re playing a pregnant woman and are pregnant yourself?
Jessica Alba: I did a TV show (Dark Angel) 10 years ago now, and that was the most challenging thing, ever. It was really difficult. Spy Kids wasn’t the most challenging, no. I did a little bit of action in this. Nothing has compared to Angel. Oddly, I miss it [laughs]. It would be really great to be able to do that much action again. After I have this baby and get settled and am ready to go back to work, I’m definitely going to be seeking out an action movie, maybe with Robert [smiles] -- if he wants to.
Movie Fanatic: Do you share traits with your Spy Kids 4 character beyond the obvious?
Jessica Alba: Well, I’m a mom, so that’s the most obvious thing [laughs]. I’m always trying to find a balance and do the best I can. Sometimes it’s not pretty. I’m not a mom to step kids, nor am I a spy. Surprise!
Movie Fanatic: When you filmed Spy Kids 4, you were a new mom. Did that make the capturing the character effort easier?
Jessica Alba: I talked to Robert [Rodriguez] a lot about it. He’s a father of five, so he has tons of experience with children. I would ask him questions about parenting like, “What do you do when you’re out and your kid has an explosion and you don’t have anything with you?” Or, “What do you do when you have to work, but you’re so tired, and you just want to spend time with them? How do you balance it?” So, I think a lot of these themes and things we talked about probably inspired some of the circumstances that my character was in. Yeah, I definitely brought a lot of my experience of being a new mom with a baby to work every day, for sure.
Movie Fanatic: Is working as a mom something that’s difficult for you to balance?
Jessica Alba: I always feel like I’m sacrificing one thing or another. It’s always challenging, in its own way. I don’t feel like I ever really have a perfect balance. I think that’s just what happens when you’re a working mom.