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Interview: Jessica Alba

The mom and actor talks about her role in Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, visiting New York City with her daughter, and playing a mommy spy.

Jessica Alba as Marissa Cortez in Dimension Films' SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD IN 4D

Jessica Alba as Marissa Cortez in Dimension Films' SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD IN 4D Photo credit: Rico Torres

With a rsum chock-full of box-office hits like Fantastic Four (2005) and Valentine's Day (2010), Jessica Alba has undoubtedly made her mark on Hollywood. Now, the mom of three-year-old Honor and newborn Haven is bringing her talents to a much younger audience of film fans. A decade after the original Spy Kids movie hit theaters, a new generation of sibling sleuths are back for the film's fourth installment, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, in theaters on August 19. Time Out Kids spoke with Alba—who plays undercover parent Marissa in the new film—about working with the original Spy Kids, the importance of family time and her favorite city haunts.

The first Spy Kids movie came out ten years ago. What are some of the biggest differences this time around?
You didn't have to see any of the first three movies to enjoy this one. The new film promotes the family unit, and the kids get to take part in the action and saving the world. I think that's what makes these movies so great.

What lessons do you think kids and parents can take away from the film?
Trying to spend as much quality time with your family is the overall theme, and I think that's something that's important. And not to underestimate what kids are capable of and how smart they are. [Director] Robert [Rodriguez] never really does that. He always portrays kids as two steps ahead of adults.

What was it like working with the original Spy Kids, Alexa and Daryl, now that they're all grown up (ages 23 and 19, respectively)?
They're really sweet and professional, and so mature. They grew up doing these movies, so I think it was kind of a trip for them to be there.

As a mom, was it easy to relate to your character, Marissa?

Absolutely. I talked to Robert about doing a kids' movie after I had my daughter. I really wanted to do a movie that she could see. Even Fantastic Four is a little too scary for her. I like that we portrayed someone who is realistic. Marissa is a spy and it's a fantastical setting that she's in. She's a mom who has flaws and tries to do it all, but obviously you have to compromise. I think it's good to have positive role models for moms.

She's definitely a very relatable character for busy city parents. Could you ever see yourself living the East Coast life?
I've wanted to move to New York since I was 18. My life circumstances have kept me on the West Coast, but I've spent a lot of time in New York. If you know of any good deals on apartments, please let me know.

Have you taken your daughter, Honor, to New York City
yet?
I take her a lot. We hit all the parks and the American Museum of Natural History. We go to Soho and Tribeca and the West Village. I've taken her to Central Park a couple of times, too. And Brooklyn. I've shot a couple of movies there.

Are there any spy skills you wish you could have in real life?
I'd like to be stealth and I'd like to know how to kick butt the way my character does.

What's next for you?
I'm working on developing a TV show and a movie. I've also been working on a baby clothing line for a couple of years that should launch soon.

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