Exclusive: How Hallmark star Alexa PenaVega fell for the City of Light in her February romance, ‘A Paris Proposal’

Alexa PenaVega and Nicholas Bishop
Alexa PenaVega and Nicholas Bishop, in the Hallmark Movie, A Paris Proposal. Pic credit: Eric Caro

Heading to Paris without her three young children was a truly unique experience for Hallmark star Alexa PenaVega.

While she missed her singer-actor husband, Carlos, and all of the hustle and bustle of their family life, exploring the sights and sounds of the City of Light shortly before Christmas was truly memorable.

PenaVega is currently starring in A Paris Proposal; part of Hallmark’s annual “Loveuary” romantic movies.

PenaVega plays Anna, an account manager for a New York City advertising agency, who has the opportunity to land the biggest client of her career, Durand Diamonds.

Anna heads to Paris with her dashing colleague Sebastian (Nicholas Bishop), whose work style clearly clashes with her own. Paris also holds painful memories for Anna because she and her ex-husband honeymooned there at the start of their one-year marriage.

A misunderstanding with the client leads the Durands to believe that Anna and Sebastian are a happy couple, which further complicates their pitch. Will the most romantic city in the world work its magic for this mismatched pair?

PenaVega says that in addition to enjoying Paris, she saw the City of Light in a new way. “In a way, Paris is its own character and it just gives the film so much more spark,” she explained exclusively to Monsters & Critics.

“I also love the relationship between the two characters, Anna and Sebastian. They can’t stand each other and they have to work together,” she says. “So, I think we went a little more rom-com than we normally do in these romantic movies for Hallmark and I love that.”

Monsters & Critics: Please tell me about filming in Paris, which is one of my favorite cities.

Alexa PenaVega: When I was younger, I did a lot of press in Paris for Spy Kids. So, the last time I had gone to Paris I was 14 or 15 years old, and to be honest I didn’t ever think much of the city. I just thought “Oh, my gosh, everybody thinks it’s this perfect, amazing, romantic city. But I didn’t see what the big deal was.

M&C: And when you went back to Paris to make this movie?

Alexa PenaVega: When I went back as an adult everything changed. I feel like Paris is like Disneyworld for adults. Everything is so beautiful. Everything. The architecture is unreal, and I loved the lights of the city. I was there right before Christmas, so there were decorations everywhere. It feels romantic and gorgeous and I constantly felt like I was in a movie just walking around Paris. It is everything it is cracked up to be.

M&C: Why were you attracted to this particular love story in A Paris Proposal?

Alexa PenaVega: First, it was filmed in Paris. I knew that the look was going to be awesome. We also filmed in Bulgaria. So, we split our time between Bulgaria and Paris. I liked the idea that we’re headed to another country, we are working with European actors so that’s something new, too. Overall, it just had a very good – it’s almost like – what I love about films set in locations is that I feel like the location also becomes a character to the movie and it gives it a lot more spark. That’s kind of how I felt about this particular project.  

M&C: What was the chemistry like between you and your co-star Nicholas Bishop, who plays your love interest? Because you’re sort of oil and water in the beginning. So, are you staying away from each other? Are you bickering?  

Alexa PenaVega: Basically, what happens in the movie is my character, Anna, thinks that she sees her ex. But she happens to be in the middle of a business meeting when she thinks she sees her ex-fiancé, by the way. 

Anna accidentally lets it slip out. But the way it slips out makes it sound as if Sebastian and Anna are engaged. It’s very awkward and instead of denying it they both just go along with it. 

Now they’re stuck pretending to be engaged for this company that they’re trying to work with. They don’t like each other. She doesn’t like the way he does business. She thinks he’s very messy and arrogant. And he is. But she’s also really stuck in her ways and needs to break out of her shell. They’re both exactly what each other needs in this season of their lives. 

It was great fun filming this with Nick. He is incredibly talented and had to put on a French accent for this film. He also speaks French. He’s very, very good at French. Thank goodness, because he helped me a lot while we were filming. But it was just so fun watching him play this role because he’s such a sweetie off-camera and he’s such a turd on screen.

Nicholas Bishop and Alexa Pena Vega, in the Hallmark Movie, A Paris Proposal. Pic credit: Eric Caro/Hallmark

M&C: How much French did you have to learn? I know firsthand it is a tough language to learn. 

Alexa PenaVega: Thank goodness for our amazing dialect coaches and having people there who spoke French. Basically, I had a few lines that I had to say in French but some of them were quite chunky. Who knows if they made the cut or not? But luckily Nick was there so when I was saying these lines, I’d look to him and he would give me little tweaks and also line readings. The truth is I don’t know this language and I want to be able to say it in a way that’s very convincing, so he helped me a lot.

M&C: Talk about the ups and downs of being away from your three children to make this movie.

Alexa PenaVega: I would say the downs are we try to spend so much time together. I think most of the people who know our family know that we have a rule where we don’t go past two weeks without seeing each other. Because this industry I really do feel like kind of splits people apart a lot. For this particular movie, we knew because it was set in multiple locations it didn’t make sense for us to travel together as a family. 

If we were just in Bulgaria or just in Paris it probably would have looked a little differently. But because we were back and forth and it wasn’t all shot at the same time, we just figured it would be easier on the whole family for me to go away. So, it was really hard to actually leave.  

Once I was gone, though, it felt like I was on a vacation. Even though I was working, it was the first time in years that I’d been able to really just focus on work and not have people pulling at me from all angles. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was still on the phone a whole, whole lot. A lot of Facetime back home and a lot of helping daddy navigate some stuff. But for the most part, I think it was really good for all of us. It gave them a lot more independence in having to learn how to run things without mommy. And for me, it really allowed me to just kind of hone in on the project that we were working on and really focus.

M&C: Did you have more time for yourself?

Alexa PenaVega: A little bit. Obviously, when you’re shooting a Hallmark movie you really do hit the ground running. So, there’s not a lot of downtime. But I definitely had some really good times. 

I definitely had this time where usually when I’m wrapped from a movie I go home and I’m taking care of babies and making dinner and taking care of the family. I was able to just go back and work out if I wanted to or go to the steam room. It was really lovely. 

M&C: Did you have time to shop? Did you bring back any souvenirs?

Alexa PenaVega: I did. I bought a bunch of Christmas ornaments and I felt like that was the best thing to bring back to the kids. They loved them and they frequently talk about them being from Paris and how it’s a special place far away and how they want to go there just like Mommy did. I just wanted to bring them back some cute things. Then also they have these beautiful little cookies in these cute tins so I brought a bunch of those back for my siblings just because I knew they were going to love them.

Nicholas Bishop and Alexa Pena Vega, in the Hallmark Movie, A Paris Proposal. Pic credit: Eric Caro/Hallmark

M&C: How romantic are you?

Alexa PenaVega: I would say I love romance. Carlos is not romantic. So, if there’s something that needs to be done that is romantic it has to come from me.

M&C: Since it’s that time of year, do you and your husband have any Valentine’s Day, date night, or overall romantic things that you like to do?

Alexa PenaVega: I will say what was great about me taking off for Paris made us braver in our ability to say that we can leave the kids for a vacation and they will be fine with help and we can go and take us time. 

M&C: Is something coming up?

Alexa PenaVega: Yes. For Valentine’s Day, we are taking a cruise together and we’re leaving the kiddos with grandma and some extra help so that way grandma isn’t overwhelmed. We’re just focusing on us having a great time together. We’re really excited.

One of our favorite easy dates we have these little pedal bikes that are half bike, half electric. Carlos and I just ride on one and we go down to Front Street in Lahaina and we go and get some food and then we ride back. It’s just such a fun thing because you feel like teenagers riding a bicycle to your date.

M&C: Do you have any guilty pleasures? And what are you reading, watching, or recommending?

Alexa: I’ve been watching this show. It’s in Spanish. It’s called Los Montaners. It’s on Disney Plus. It is fantastic. It is just about this incredible family. It’s a famous family. I’m sure if you look them up you will probably know some of their music. The father was a big musician growing up and still plays a lot of music, but his kids are massive. His son-in-law is Camilo, his daughter is Evaluna. He has two sons now, Mau and Ricky, and they’re a huge band. It’s just a very famous family, but they have this reality show that is incredible. It just focuses on the importance of family and unity and that just sings to my heart. That’s really been my go-to show lately. I just am obsessed with it.

My guilty pleasure lately has been chocolate and, oh, my gosh, I want to stop. I know that I need to stop, but I can’t!

M&C: What is the best part of being a mom these days?

Alexa PenaVega: Oh gosh, their personalities are hilarious. My little girl, Rio, is one year old, so she is old enough to where she definitely has a mind of her own and it’s hilarious. But watching her two older brothers (Ocean, 6, and Kingston, 3) fall in love with her because this is the first little girl in the family and they just think she’s the cutest thing ever, and she really is the princess because they’ll do anything for her. So, watching her rule the house over these two older boys is my favorite thing right now as a mom.

Alexa Pena Vega and Nicholas Bishop, in the Hallmark Movie, A Paris Proposal. Pic credit: Eric Caro/Hallmark

M&C: You certainly have your hands full. I’m sure it’s not quiet.

Alexa PenaVega: No, it’s not. My goodness, there are quiet moments when Carlos and I look at each other and we’re like, ‘This is glorious.’ But it’s very rare when it’s quiet.

M&C: Are you and Carlos going to work together again soon?

Alexa PenaVega: Yes, we have a couple of projects coming up that we’re so excited about. I can’t give any more details other than that, but we do have quite a few projects in the works that we’re very happy about, and some of them are for Hallmark.

M&C: I really enjoyed Love in the Limelight, the last one we talked about that you starred with Carlos. That was fun.

Alexa PenaVega: Thank you. Yes, that was a really, really special one. Carolos did all the music, too, so that made it extra, extra cool. We’ll see what the next ones bring.

M&C: Do your children watch your beloved series, Spy Kids?

Alexa PenaVega: Yes. My kids love Spy Kids now. It took them a while, just because it is I would say geared more towards a little bit older, like six to 10-year-olds. My son, Ocean, is finally in that place where it’s awesome for him, he loves it. And because he loves it now Kingston is excited about it. They’re actually into Spy Kids now. They also love a series that I was not in that was made by the same production company, and that’s Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

M&C: So, you’re home now, right? 

Alexa PenaVega: Right now, yes. We’re at home on Maui. We are going to take off very soon. Carlos will soon be touring South America Then I’ll be doing some press for this and some press for our book that came out. Then we all head out because we have to shoot three movies, another tour and then we’re going to go sailing on our boat.

M&C: Wow! I guess you like being busy.

Alexa: PenaVega: You know what? I think we’ll probably end up taking a year off at some point. Within the next couple of years, we’ll probably take an entire year off. Just to have some designated family time.

M&C: What is your definition of personal and professional success?

Alexa PenaVega: Oh, personal success would be just a happy, healthy family. For me, a thriving family is personal success. Professional success would be making projects that I am truly passionate about and proud of in the entertainment world. I really love acting, I really love creating shows. It’s something that I’ve just been passionate about for a long time. We recently sold a show that we’re very excited about and hopefully, we can announce it soon, but it’s a passion project. To see this show come to light is really a dream come true. 

M&C: So, why are a few reasons you want everyone to see A Paris Proposal? Especially around Valentine’s Day. 

Alexa PenaVega: Well, for one, it’s very fun and romantic and if you are one for romance you will absolutely love this. I think there are cute little surprises in the movie, there are moments that are just going to make your heart flutter. I feel like the kiss in this movie is just such a – it’s one that really pops. I think the girls are going to swoon.

A Paris Proposal premieres on Hallmark on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

Next: Exclusive: Why Hallmark star Alison Sweeney loves the female bonding in ‘The Wedding Veil Journey’

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