On discovering her love of acting:
“I was so enamored at how much fun I had throughout the whole experience. That was when I was like: ‘This is was what I want to do forever.’ Even at 9, I knew, and as I’ve gotten older that love has never left, which I’m so happy and grateful for.”
On how she characterizes her work ethic:
“I think I’m someone who is professional but I don’t take things too seriously. Like yes, it is a job. Yes, it is work, but I never want to lose my sense of fun. I think that’s what makes me so in love with my job… I always have a good time doing it. Even if the subject matter is dark and heavy, or the physicality of it is draining, I want to make sure I’m having fun. Like every time I step on a new set, it’s an adventure to make new friends meet new people.”
On how her upbringing raised her to have thick skin in a tough industry:
“I’ll be honest: I got told I wasn’t pretty enough for a role, and that really hurt me because it was just the harshness which unfortunately you have to become callous to. But with the type of person that I am, it fuels me, even more, to stay true to myself and be myself as much as I can, and I’m so grateful I was raised that way. I was raised in a way to let things roll off my back and taking a pause before I let anything affect me.”
On her favorite line from a past film:
“From Horton Hears A Who, my character says, ‘In my world, everyone’s a pony, and we all eat rainbows and poop butterflies,’ and that is a line that has stuck with me for years, and I think a lot of people who’ve seen the movie say it’s their favorite, too!”
They had just finished up a round of Skee-Ball when they were spotted by a couple of teenage girls meekly clutching iPhones.
“We love ‘The Kissing Booth,’” one of the young women exclaimed. “Can we take a selfie with you?”
The three stars of the Netflix film — Joey King, 18, Jacob Elordi, 21, and Joel Courtney, 22 — obliged of course. Since the film’s release in May, they said, they’ve been approached like this hundreds of times.
“Every day, at least a couple of times a day,” Elordi said. “Some people are strange, but most of the young kids are awesome. The other night I was eating by myself at a diner and a group of college friends asked me if I wanted to sit with them, so I did.”
His costars, meanwhile, grew up as kid actors in Hollywood. Courtney was 14 when he scored his first big role in J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” and King just 10 when she starred opposite Selena Gomez as the iconic Beverly Cleary character Ramona Quimby in “Ramona and Beezus.”
But despite years of building up solid resumes — King has appeared in “The Conjuring,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and the TV series “Fargo” — none of their projects have given them the instant recognition of “The Kissing Booth.” Earlier this month, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, called the film “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world.”
Which, frankly, no one expected.
The film is based on a story written by a 15-year-old, and it first appeared on Wattpad, an online self-publishing platform. It follows an upbeat teenager named Elle (King) whose high school existence is going swimmingly until she falls for her best friend’s hunky older brother (Courtney plays the BFF, Elordi the b.f.). It was directed by Vince Marcello, a Disney Channel filmmaker responsible for “Teen Beach Movie” and its subsequent sequel, “Teen Beach 2.”
In other words, “The Kissing Booth” is cute enough, but the majority of critics have declared it an objectively bad movie: It has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But as Vulture put it, the romantic comedy is “bad in a comforting way. Most of the plot points and supporting characters are blatant rip-offs of earlier teen films, which gives the film a similar quality to those pop songs that build their hooks by sampling previous hits.”
It’s also an intriguing new piece in the ongoing puzzle known as Netflix original movies. While the streaming giant has produced a slew of respected, award-nominated television fare — “Orange Is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “Making a Murderer” — its film content has yet to make the same kind of broad impact.
Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” which the company picked up at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, earned Netflix its first Oscar nominations outside of documentary categories just this year.
Other titles — from “Okja” to “War Machine” to Sundance prize winner “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” — have flown lower on the cultural radar. Even a “success,” like Will Smith’s “Bright” — which Netflix says attracted a lot of eyeballs, though it never publicly released streaming figures — was dinged by scathing reviews.
But few, if any, of Netflix’s movies outside of its film library have been aimed at young people. Which is partially why the company decided to produce “The Kissing Booth,” financing the film’s two-month shoot in South Africa last year.
“We had ‘13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Stranger Things’ on the series side, but it was a space we hadn’t explored much on the film side,” said Ian Bricke, Netflix’s director of independent film. “We thought this had a Disney Channel vibe, but felt slightly more grounded — it felt like an interesting, underserved spot between younger YA and edgier teen fare.”
If the first things that come to mind when you hear the words “child star” are DUI charges, squabbles with the paparazzi and unusual works of performance art, then consider Joey King as a true exception to Hollywood’s stereotype — the young actor has been climbing the steady road to success for over 14 years and isn’t showing any signs of stumbling.
Perhaps the secret to the getting to the top in one piece lies in a solid starting point, which in King’s case takes the shape of a cereal commercial and a collection of home movies created with her sister and fellow actress, Hunter King. “One of my favourites that we made was called Revenge About Cheerleaders,” she tells me when I manage steal five minutes away from her busy schedule. “We shot it at our house and I was in charge of sound effects, wardrobe and playing a cheerleader’s father – clearly it was a legit production.”
Legit production or not, it already sounds like a film I’d like to see, and Revenge About Cheerleaders is now part of an impressive repertoire of movies. In fact, with roles in titles ranging from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, The Conjuring to Fargo, you’ve probably seen the 18 year old grow up on screen before your very eyes, and in turn, King has witnessed the initial whirs and murmurs of a slowly shifting industry along the way.
“I feel the industry has become more inclusive in a lot of different ways. We’ve been seeing more people fighting for equal pay, we’ve seen more films that have people of different backgrounds and colour, and we’ve seen more women in roles that they deserve to have — just to name a few things,” says the LA native. “In this business – and in any business – there’s always been the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully by people publicly trying to make a difference we’ll see much less of the bad and the ugly.”
With the recent release Netflix’s adaptation of Beth Reekles’ best seller, The Kissing Booth, and the much anticipated release of Summer ’03 in September, 2018 is perhaps King’s biggest year yet. She’s also about to embark upon filming The Bayou, an upcoming thriller starring Dylan O’Brien and Academy Award winner, Gary Oldman. “I’m honestly so excited for this role and this film, I think I’m gonna explode,” she says.
Though, even with all the big titles, it’s charm that’s King’s ace — she’s got bags of it. “My advice is don’t take yourself too seriously,” she says. “Be silly, have fun, and don’t try and be a different person to who you are because you think that’s what others expect of you.” Wise words from Hollywood’s most promising young talent.
Early this month, Netflix released a film about a high school student being forced to choose between her best friend and secret crush. Titled The Kissing Booth, Joey Lynn King stars as the outgoing Elle Evans, who is fairly popular among her peers but has never gone out on a date, let alone been kissed. However, things take a turn when she ended up at a kissing booth, facing her best friend’s brother. Although the storyline may not appeal to the older crowd, this romantic comedy has managed to beautifully capture the ups and downs of infatuation.
The optimistic, upbeat Joey is exactly the kind of California girl that people instantly fall in love with, hands down! Born and raised in Los Angeles, you may know the American actress from her role as the well-meaning troublemaker Romona Quimby in Romona and Beezus, the 2010 adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s book series. Thriller enthusiasts may recognize her as Christine Perron, the first Perron in The Conjuring who noticed malevolent spirits in the house. And chances are, some may have identified her voice in animated films such as Horton Hears a Who! And Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
Now, Joey is branching out into other films, with a role in James Franco’s upcoming comedy-drama Zeroville and a star turn in Slenderman, where she plays a high school girl who sets out to find her mysteriously missing friend.
Being in this industry from a young age, do you sometimes believe you’re missing out on life? This is a question that I get frequently, and I can honestly say no. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I feel like I’m the luckiest fricken girl alive. I really love what I do, and I also love the snacks on set. If anything, everyone else is missing out on those snacks.
“I love bringing books to life on screen. I think what Beth Reekles did with The Kissing Booth was incredible. This teenage girl starts a story on Wattpad, and then gets herself a book deal and THEN it gets made into a feature film for Netflix!? It’s truly inspiring.”
Summer 03 is a fun, nutty film! Tell us how you got involved in it and your initial idea of its storyline. Do you have a specific favourite scene or quote in the movie? Summer 03 certainly is a nutty film. When I first read the script, I immediately fell in love with it. It is funny, shocking, raunchy, and relatable. I mean the list goes on. I think one of my favorite scenes filmed was my big speech at my grandmother’s funeral in the end. It’s WILD.
How does it feel to be in a book-to-film adaption whereby the book is written by someone of your age? I love bringing books to life on screen. I think what Beth Reekles did with The Kissing Booth was incredible. This teenage girl starts a story on Wattpad, and then gets herself a book deal and THEN it gets made into a feature film for Netflix!? It’s truly inspiring. I love the story and the way the movie came out so much.
You met your boyfriend Jacob Elordi at The Kissing Booth. Tell us about your first impression of him and how did it develop into something more? Would you like to work on another film together with Jacob in the near future? Tis true!! Jacob and I met while filming on the set of The Kissing Booth and we honestly hit it off the minute we met, but just as friends. The shoot was about two months long. For the first month, I would say he became one of my best friends and I felt so comfortable around him to a point where we were both like “Hey, this person makes me feel happy and warm. Maybe there’s something there.” The best part is, we’re still best friends and we would love to work together again someday.
Joey King is not your average teenager. At just 18-years-old, she can boast of having worked in some of the biggest productions in the industry throughout her 14-year-old career: from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night Rises and FX’s acclaimed series Fargo to horror maestro Jen Wan’s The Conjuring. But she keeps adding names to her resumé: having just announced her appearance in the upcoming thriller, The Bayou, alongside Academy Award-winner Gary Oldman and Maze Runner‘s Dylan O’Brien, and even stepping into production. There’s no doubt that King can do it all, and she doesn’t have any plans of stopping soon. Wise beyond her years yet candidly refreshing, King opens up to Schön! about stepping into the industry at a young age, the perils and pleasures of social media and her latest venture, The Kissing Booth, which premieres today on Netflix.
You’ve been acting professionally since you were four. How did your interest in acting start? Since we were little, my sisters and I just always had a desire to express ourselves in a way we couldn’t explain until we started doing little local theatre plays together. Then we really understood that we loved to entertain people and provoke emotion from people. Ever since then I’ve loved the feeling of being on a set and [bringing] characters to life.
What do you think has been the best and worst part of stepping into the industry that young? How does it feel to be stepping into the limelight now as a protagonist? I think for me, the best part has been that over the years I’ve gotten to meet people that I will call friends and even family for the rest of my life. I’ve been so lucky, almost everyone I’ve encountered along the way has been lovely. I think the worst part for some people is that they can get very caught up in the lifestyle of being somebody with a lot of attention on them, but although it sounds cliché, having a good family around you is the best thing to keep your head right. I’m very lucky in that aspect too.
Speaking of family, your grandmother was into theatre and, as you mentioned, your sisters are also in the business. How was it growing up in your family? Did they influence your acting in any way? My family is a blast. My whole family is full of characters. Me and my sister Hunter would make home movies a lot when we were younger and edit them ourselves so we were always doing something crazy. At six years old, I was in charge of special effects and sound effects in our films… lots of responsibility [laughs].
You’ve just released Summer ‘03 to positive critics on your acting. How do you feel you have matured in your craft as an actress since? Because you clearly have! SXSW was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. I feel so proud to be in Summer ’03. It’s a performance of mine that I feel really confident in, which is hard for me to say because I’m always so critical [about] myself. I think when it comes out, people will be shocked, laughing, and feel like it relates to them in a way. It’s a wild movie. In terms of maturing in my craft, I try not to take myself too seriously and just have fun. Being carefree and committing yourself 110% to a character is so liberating and I hope that, as I get older, I get a chance to challenge myself and play many different kinds of characters.
You’ve been part of major productions like Christopher Nolan’s Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and more recently the series Fargo. What role has been your favorite so far and who are looking forward to playing in the future? Any experience that has been particularly formative or memorable to you? It is pretty crazy to take a look at what I’ve gotten to be part of. I’m looking forward to EVERYTHING! One thing I loved so much about making Fargo was that I got the chance to play someone who has an accent in the show and I would definitely love to play someone with an accent again. An experience that has been particularly memorable and formative to me was filming Going In Style. I got to work with some of my idols — Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin — which was a life-changing moment for me, all while being directed by one of my closest friends Zach Braff. The whole experience of filming that movie will forever be so special to me. Everyone was so so nice.
Your next project, The Kissing Booth, is set to air on Netflix. What can you tell us about the project? I’m so excited for The Kissing Booth to release on Netflix [today]! It’s such a cute movie that I had an exceptional time making. It’s a film about a girl named Elle Evans and she has a MAJOR crush on her best friends brother. It’s romantic, silly, heart-wrenching and just hilarious. I’m in love with it and I hope everyone else will be too.