If careers are like rocket ships, then Joey King’s is in full blast-off mode. Approaching her 18th birthday this July, Joey has an incredible acting career under her belt already, and no less than three huge films coming out soon. In NETFLIX’s teen comedy, The Kissing Both, Joey co-stars alongside Molly Ringwald, and in Summer ’03 she stars as a young woman whose grandmother leaves behind a mysterious array of secrets after she dies. Joey also stars in the highly anticipated horror film, Slender Man. For her BELLO feature, we had the chance to talk to Joey about her incredible career in Hollywood, her biggest inspirations, and finding love on set.
Not everyone can say they had the chance to work with an 80s icon as big as Molly Ringwald, but Joey King most certainly can. In the upcoming NETFILX comedy, The Kissing Booth, Joey got to bond with the legendary actress over several months. “It was incredible. Getting to work on a high school comedy movie with the high school comedy Queen was unimaginable. She was so kind, and everything I had always imagined she would be. Me, her, and some of my other castmates, especially Joel Courtney, we would sit together often and talk, and solve Rubik’s Cubes together. It was such a great time.”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that Joey’s all-time favorite 80s movie is one of Molly Ringwald’s biggest hits: Pretty In Pink (1986). “I love Molly and Jon Cryer in that movie, and I feel like Pretty In Pink was one of the first movies to have that great ‘underdog wins’ storyline that makes it so fun to watch.”
Working on The Kissing Booth was a labor of love in more ways than one for Joey. Not only did she become friends with Molly, but she also met her new boyfriend on set as well. So was it love at first sight for Joey and her co-star, Jacob Elordi? “Was it love at first sight? Well, I thought he was very cute when we first met, but it started as a friendship. Right away we were talking about gross things with each other (laughing). But before long I started to realize, ‘Hey, I think I kind of like this person!’ It was such an interesting experience meeting your boyfriend on set because you spend so much time together and become so close so fast. We were spending 17 hours a day together, and all of us would hang out after work and watch movies together and stuff. It was great.”
The Kissing Booth tells the story of a high school student who ends up having to confront her secret crush in a kissing booth, so we thought it worth asking her when her first real-life kiss was. As it turns out, Joey’s long career in Hollywood means her first kiss was of the on-screen variety. “My very first kiss was on a film set with Keegan Allen, in a movie directed by James Franco. Keegan was so sweet and he made me a lot less nervous, but he was nervous, too, because he knew it was my first kiss!”
Another of Joey’s films coming out soon is the dark comedy Summer ’03 in which Joey plays a young woman whose grandmother leaves behind a string of unexpected secrets when she dies. Joey says she was instantly attracted to the project from the moment she got the script. “I remember when I first got the script I couldn’t put it down. And the director, Becca Gleason — well, it was love at first sight. We became best friends immediately, and I could sense her vision for the project immediately. Plus, she’s so smart, and has so much drive and motivation. So once we got on set with the entire amazing cast, it was incredible. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”
One might not typically think of a dark comedy as holding nuggets of wisdom about life, but Summer ’03 very well might. “The take home message for sure (and it sounds cliché, but it’s definitely not cliché in the film) is that family is truly the most important thing in the world. We go through a lot of trials and tribulations to find that out in Summer ’03. The film is so funny and dark and weird, and it’s a great, motivational movie to watch.”
Joey King has been working as an actor almost her entire life, and the fruits of her hard work are self evident. So what advice would she give to child actors of a similar age as when she first started climbing the Hollywood ladder? “My best advice would be to have fun doing what you love. From studying your craft by watching as many films as possible (which is so valuable), to when you first begin working — try not to take yourself too seriously. You have to have fun doing what you do. Of course you have to be serious about the work because you have a job to do, but try not to be too serious about yourself — if it’s not fun you’re not going to enjoy it.”
Right now Joey’s biggest goal as an actor is to experiment with as many genres as possible. “There are so many actors, both women and men, whose career choices I admire. I love Jessica Chastain, and of course Jennifer Lawrence, but as much as I want to emulate paths such as these, I have to make it my own. I want to be the kind of person who can do the comedies and the dramas; the movies that are really silly and the serious ones, too. That’s what I love about The Kissing Booth — it’s so silly and so funny. I think every actor should do a teen comedy at least once in their lives. And Summer ’03, on the other hand, is darker humour. I want to be able to do many different types of things. I also love action, horror, and drama.”
But of all her upcoming films, the darkest by far is Slender Man. The highly anticipated horror, based on the disturbing Internet meme that seemingly took over the world, was light years away from the lightheartedness that Joey experienced on set of her other projects. “It was very, very creepy [to shoot]. You’re in such eerie territory while making these, but I think people are going to love it. We also had a lot of bug spray working on it because we were in the woods during filming.”
Working on a film so steeped in urban legend, one wouldn’t be surprised if strange things were to happen to the crew. “Nothing strange happened to me during filming Slender Man, but actually when I was filming The Conjuring, something strange did happen,” she revealed. “It hasn’t happened to me since, but while making that movie I developed a strange blood condition in which I lost thousands of platelets. The doctors said I needed a blood transfusion, but I didn’t want to. So before and after filming I had to get my blood tested everyday. And then my platelets slowly started building up on their own. As soon as I got home it was all perfectly fine. It was very strange because nothing like that ever happened to me before or since.”
For someone who works as hard as Joey does, relaxation time is critical. So what does she consider to be a perfect Sunday? “I would wake up really early, go to the beach, then I would go and buy some fresh-squeezed watermelon juice. Then I’d come home, play with my dogs, and probably watch something like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (laughing). Then I’d probably have dinner with my whole family.”
Family, after all, is where Joey gets most of her inspiration. “My mom is so smart and creative, and she’s so handy at thinking of projects for the home. My sisters, too, because they’re so smart and savvy. And my boyfriend loves to write, and I’m so envious of that. I’ve always wanted to learn how to write, and he’s so great at it. There are so many people in my life who I draw inspiration from.”
Summer ’03 does not yet have a release date, but The Kissing Booth arrives on NETFLIX May 11th, and Slender Man hits theaters in August 2018.