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Joey King for Bello Magazine

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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.


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What ‘Wish Upon’ Star Joey King Learned from Selena Gomez About Fame and Overcoming Her Haters

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Curled up on a bronze leather couch at The London New York City hotel in midtown Manhattan, Joey King traces her fingers along the wall. “I love this wall,” she says, drawing abstract lines and curves on the tan velvet wallpaper.

The moment is perhaps the only instance of childish whimsy I see from King, 17, during our hour-long conversation. After all, she turns 18 at the end of this month. But other than her age, King’s wise-beyond-her-years persona might come from her 10-plus years playing precocious little sisters (Emma Stone’s in “Crazy, Stupid, Love”), daughters (Channing Tatum’s in “White House Down”), and granddaughters (Michael Caine’s in “Going in Style”) on film and television. “I got to grow up around a lot of people who I admire and look up to,” King says.

The next on-screen family member King will adopt is Ryan Phillippe in July 14’s “Wish Upon,” a horror film about a teenage girl whose wishes to become popular end in tragic consequences. However, instead of playing sidekick to her more seasoned co-stars like she did for the bulk of her career, King—now dressed in a baby pink blazer, cropped jeans, and silver metallic heels, with her shaggy chestnut brown hair resting on her shoulders—is finally ready to take the lead.

Raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, King, the youngest of three daughters, began acting at 3 in community theatre productions with her sisters. It didn’t take long before she made the move on-screen, beginning with a Life cereal commercial at 4. “I didn’t have any lines. I was gluing Life cereal onto a piece of paper as a craft project, and I started eating it,” King said. “It was a cute little thing.”

Soon after, King started landing guest spots on shows like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” before scoring her big break as Selena Gomez’s baby sister in 2010’s “Ramona and Beezus,” a role that solidified her decision to pursue acting professionally. “I was like, ‘This is for me forever,’” King says, “I just had so much fun. It’s just continued with the same amount of fun every time I go on set.

But when it came time for “Ramona and Beezus” to premiere as King was entering third grade at a new school, the experience was far from a dream. As King was appearing on movie screens across the country, she received groans from her classmates, who outcasted her for her acting career. “They hated me before they met me,” King says.

However, King knew better to retaliate. Instilling a lesson she learned from Gomez, who she admits she still keeps in touch with, on killing with kindness, King took the high road, concentrated on her work, and brushed the bullies off her shoulders. “Selena was 16 when she did the movie. I’m almost 18. I really looked up to her as an older sister…She really took me under her wing and treated me like family.” King says. “We had conversations about staying humble and being nice to everyone and working as hard as you can.

King carried Gomez’s lessons on humility throughout her career. It’s likely what landed her a part in Taylor Swift’s music video for her 2010 single, “Mean,” in which King played an outcasted schoolgirl forced to eat alone in the bathroom. It’s also likely what inspired King’s glass-half-full attitude, as evidenced by her positive outlook on everything from Twitter trolls (“They motivate me”) to hardships at school (“I loved the teachers”) to her first-ever kiss with Keegan Allen in 2011’s “The Sound and the Fury” (“I was super-duper nervous, but it all worked out.”)

Full interview:

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How Joey King Is Avoiding A Career In Elephant Dentistry

If she wasn’t an actor, Joey King would be an elephant dentist. It’s definitely not a job you hear about everyday, but what’s perhaps even more striking about King’s secondary career choice is the confidence with which she talks about it. The actor recently went on a safari in South Africa and learned that when elephants lose their sixth set of molars, they can starve to death. “I heard that there are elephant dentists, who make prosthetic teeth for them so that they can live longer,” she tells me when we speak at Bustle HQ in New York. “And I was like, ‘Oh my god. If I’m not an actor ever in my life, which I hope that never happens, I’m gonna become an elephant dentist.'”

At 17, King’s at an age where a lot of young women don’t know what they want to do with their lives at all, but she is a talker and is self-assured when speaking about everything, whether that be elephant dentistry, the time James Franco helped her with a breakup, or playing Michael Caine’s granddaughter in her latest film, Going In Style.

King has been acting since she was four years old (her first big starring role was in Ramona and Beezus in 2010), but right now things are really taking off — she has nine movies in various stages of production. Even though she’s been doing this, basically, her entire life, and counts Franco and Zach Braff as close friends, she’s still in awe of the people she gets to meet.

“I totally get star struck,” she says. “I think it’s really neat because I look up to so many different people.

Those people include the stars of Going In Style: Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and her on-screen grandfather, Caine.

Being around those guys, as much as it was exciting, I was like, ‘Oh my god. What if they don’t like me?’ And they just put those thoughts at ease the minute I met them,” she says. “They’re such legends and they’re so successful, and I just love the fact that they just stayed so humble and nice.

King has also stayed “so humble and nice” for someone who has had James Franco help her breakup with someone. The actor — who King describes as “one of those people who you don’t quite understand the minute you meet them but then when you understand them you’re like, ‘Oh my god. I get it now’” — was there when she was ending a relationship via text.

He was actually with me when I was writing the message out,” she says. “And I was like, ‘I don’t know what to say. This is terrible,’ and he’s like, ‘Calm down.’

King says she, Franco, and Braff all grew close when working on 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful. “If I want advice on either something about my work or anything to do with my regular life, those two will always be there for me,” she says. In the time since Oz, King has gone on to work with Braff on two more films, including Going In Style, which he directed, and with Franco on several projects, including the upcoming Zeroville.

While King is used to hanging out with celebrities who are much older than her, she, somehow, still seems like such a 17-year-old — and she relates to characters who are normal teens, too. In the upcoming The Kissing Booth she says, “I play this character named Elle Evans and she’s kind of awkward and funny and doesn’t really realize that she’s gone through puberty yet. And when I read the script I was like, ‘Oh my god. This is so me. She’s so awkward. I love it.’

King hopes she never has to put her plan B with the elephants into play, simply because she loves acting so much. “I love working, it’s my favorite thing to do is to act. And to do what I love, nothing about that makes me nervous,” she says. “I’m just nervous about hoping that people like everything.

And with her many upcoming projects and a little help from her industry friends, she can probably keep “making elephant dentures” pretty low on her to-do list for now.


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Joey King Is Most Definitely Going in Style


The chance to appear in a film alongside three of the greats—Alan Arkin, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman—has to top the bucket list for every young actor. Such is the dream fulfilled for Joey King, 17, who plays Michael Caine’s whip-smart granddaughter, Brooklyn, in Going in Style, the Warner Brothers remake of the ‘70s caper flick, directed by Zach Braff, in theaters Friday. King’s had a very exciting career already, including starring last year in Independence Day and starring in Wish Upon, a thriller slated for release on June 30. We were happy to catch up with King to talk about her career plans, her family and why it’s really cool to be Zach Braff’s muse.

There had to be so many things, but what was the best part of being in the Going in Style cast?
I think the best part was getting to work with people who I so greatly look up to in New York City. What more could I ask for? Legendary people, great food, unreal movie—the list goes on.

Pretty amazing to join this venerable cast, too.
Shooting with Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin is almost indescribable. I’ve always looked up to these men and one can only dream of working with a cast like that. It was so amazing because not only were they obviously insanely talented, but they confirmed all my hopes and dreams because they are the nicest men in the world. Alan would often play ukulele in the hair and makeup trailer, Morgan is just so lively and would always dance with me on set and Michael is so sharp and witty so our banter felt so natural and he became like a real grandfather to me.

I read that this is the third film you’ve worked on with Zach Braff.
Working with Zach Braff is something I will never get enough of. This is my third film with him and I hope there will be many more. He’s so sweet and calls me his muse, but I don’t think he realizes how much he inspires me. I feel everything he touches is magic, he can provoke such a range of emotion from audiences as an actor, writer and director. Going in Style is so funny I couldn’t stop my eyes from watering in the theater I was laughing so much and the soundtrack is fire, which Zach always knows how to do so well. I’m so proud of him and I’m proud and grateful to call him my director and friend.

What’s next for you?
Next up I have a film coming out that’s a psychological thriller called Wish Upon starring myself, Ryan Phillippe and Ki Hong Lee. It’s going to be so rad! And I was just in South Africa filming a Netflix movie called The Kissing Booth starring myself and Molly Ringwald. It’s a really sweet and hysterical teen rom-com that has a Pretty in Pink, She’s the Man and Mean Girls vibe to it all in one. I can’t wait for people to see it.

Do you have a mantra when it comes to picking projects?
I pick my projects based on if I like the script and if I think I’ll have fun doing it. But my favorite thing to look for is a challenge—something I’ve never done before or something I want to try that’s been incorporated into a script. I have huge dreams and making career choices can be very scary, but I have so many great people in my life, especially my mom and my sisters, and I always look out for myself. For me, it’s about having as much fun as possible and being kind to everyone.