Joey King on How ‘Kissing Booth’ Changed Her Life and Why She’s Won’t Date Any of Her Co-Stars Again
Actress also tells Howard about the drawbacks of social media fame, shooting nude scenes on “The Act,” and why she’s still too scared to watch “The Conjuring”August 11, 2020
Hollywood starlet Joey King has been a leading lady for over half her life. At 10, she shot “Ramona and Beezus with Selena Gomez and over the next few years she appeared in box office hits like “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” “White House Down,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” But none of them could prepare her for the fame thrust upon her after starring in Netflix’s 2018 rom-com “The Kissing Booth.” Almost overnight, the low-budget teen movie became the streamer’s most popular offering and Joey became a household name.
“My life changed drastically after ‘The Kissing Booth’ came out,” Joey told Howard on Tuesday during her Stern Show debut.
The newfound attention paved the way for everything from an Emmy-nominated TV role to her very own Cosmopolitan cover, but it also came with a price. Having over 16 million social media followers can be overwhelming.
“That’s so many people and so many of them are so mean,” Joey told Howard, adding, “I’ve never had a problem with confidence—and I still don’t—it’s just when you read that that many people agree that you’re an ugly piece of shit, you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck me. That sucks.’”
Howard was stunned anyone would criticize Joey or her looks, but the actress suspected the negativity stemmed from her high-profile split from “Kissing Booth” co-star Jacob Elordi.
“They think that calling me ugly gives them a better chance of dating him,” she said, though she insisted she could handle it. “I tuck myself in watching ‘Frasier’ every night, feeling great about myself because I know why they’re doing it. It doesn’t really hurt me. It’s fine.”
Though the hurtful comments get to her at times, Joey refused to let the negativity keep her down. “All I have to do is just put my little phone down, take a look around, and go, ‘Oh, my life is really great,’” she said, adding, “I’ve been acting since I was four and now I’m the lead in a rom-com trilogy. Can you imagine anything more amazing than that? No. So, like, fuck ‘em.”
Not every horror story Joey recounted Tuesday was about metaphorical social media monsters. One, which occurred while shooting “The Conjuring,” may have involved an actual evil witch.
“That movie is so fucked up. That movie messed me up for my whole life. That movie scares me to this day—I can’t even watch it,” Joey said, adding, “The family that the story’s based off of came and visited set and were telling us all these wild stories … I was so freaked out after that.”
The on-set scares she endured weren’t only in her mind, either. “In the story, when the mom gets possessed she gets all these bruises on her and whatnot. During the filming of those particular scenes, I started to have a lot of bruises show up on my body in bizarre places—on my stomach, on my chest,” she told Howard. “The makeup ladies thought I was stealing their fake bruises and like playing a joke on them.”
“I went to a real doctor while I was shooting and I got a couple blood tests because they told me it looked like it could potentially be early signs of leukemia—I was so freaked out,” Joey continued, adding she was later diagnosed with a blood-thinning condition called ITP and feared she might need a blood transfusion. Thankfully, the condition mysteriously went away after she finished shooting the film.
“No wonder you’re freaked out by ghosts!” Howard said.
“I was just like, ‘You know what? This is it for me. I’ve had a good run. I’m 12 years old. I’m just going to, you know, get killed by a ghost now,’” she laughed.
As scary as that experience was, Howard wondered if Joey would star in a “Conjuring” sequel for the right price.
“I’m hesitant to answer this question for no other reason than the literal paranoia that the witch lady—I’m not even going to say her name because she’s dead and scares the shit out of me—is listening to Howard Stern at six in the morning,” she said with a laugh. “But if she’s busy haunting somebody else right now .. I’d say, yeah, I’d do it.”
Joey may not conjure up another “Conjuring” movie any time soon, but she does have a different sequel on the horizon: “Kissing Booth 3,” arriving on Netflix in 2021. The streamer is so confident in the franchise it greenlit and shot the third film before “Kissing Booth 2” even premiered.
“Let me tell you how great things have gotten. I got an email from [Netflix executive] Ted Sarandos congratulating me on the movie … I hear from Ted a lot more than the average person hears from Ted,” she told Howard, explaining the streamer also sent her a champagne and caviar gift basket for her birthday.
As it turned out, Joey and her ex-boyfriend Jacob gave each other altogether different parting gifts after shooting “Kissing Booth 2.” While he told Variety he never bothered to watch the finished movie, she called his bluff on Twitter.
“I said, ‘Jacob watched it. He’s capping.’ Which, ‘capping’ means lying,” she told Howard, explaining she later deleted the tweet after learning she’d appropriated the term. “It’s something I should not have used as a white person.”
“The tweet was a jovial thing. It wasn’t to be mean—it really wasn’t,” she continued. “I know the ‘The Kissing Booth’ fans … and that’s who it was for.”
While the good-natured jab generated several headlines, Joey swore Jacob gave her permission to send the tweet.
“That’s cool. It shows a good sense of humor on his part,” Howard said.
“He had a good sense of humor about that tweet, for sure,” she laughed.
Their relationship didn’t stand the test of time, but Joey has no regrets. “I think it’s a good thing we dated in the first place. I learned the most I’ve ever learned in my life from him,” she said.
“Would you ever date another actor again?” Howard asked.
“No. I couldn’t,” she replied. “I think that it’s awesome to date someone in your field, who gets it, but doing the same exact thing as somebody is tough. It’s really tough.”
Howard appreciated her honesty but wondered who’d she’d pursue if she changed her mind. “Who’s the hottest actor you’ve ever seen?” he asked.
“Benedict Cumberbatch,” she responded without hesitation.
Though she’s done dating thespians, Joey still forges close relationships with them. She and Patricia Arquette formed quite the bond while playing a dysfunctional mother and daughter on Hulu’s critically acclaimed true crime series “The Act.” The two even had an “honor system” while filming where they promised to tell one another if a scene had fallen flat.
“It felt very strange sometimes to tell Patricia Arquette, ‘Hey, maybe ask for one more,’” she told Howard.
Joey said the seasoned actress also helped make her comfortable while she shot her very first nude scene. “Oh man, she took charge,” Joey recounted. “She was amazing because I’d never had that experience before and she was like, ‘Alright, this is how we’re gonna do this,’ and I felt so loved and protected by her. She’s the best.”
“When I got that nomination … I was just a puddle of tears. I was so, so excited,” she told Howard. “To be in the same category as Michelle Williams and Amy Adams and Niecy Nash and Aunjanue Ellis, it was like, ‘Are you joking?’”
“That’s a win. That’s a huge win in and of itself,” she added.
Joey didn’t expect to go home with a trophy that night, but she still planned out who she might thank just in case she did pull off the upset and her nerves failed her on stage. “My heart was beating out of my chest,” she said of being in the audience as the winner was announced. “My heart was beating right when I was in the Zoom green room for [the Stern Show]. I have a lot of adrenaline. I get really amped about stuff,” she added.
The perks of stardom aren’t limited to gift baskets and Emmy nominations, of course. Joey told Howard her early career successes enabled her to at just 16 purchase the home where she, her mom, and her actress sister Hunter King now live.
“It’s nice. It’s like, you know, full all the time. It’s cozy,” she said. “I like to come home and hear that people are home. It’s nice. I find it really comforting.”
Joey told Howard she and Hunter are especially close. “My sister is the single-handed most supportive person I’ve ever met. Her and I, we’ve been best friends since we were little,” she said. “Her and I just vibe. I love her so much.”
“One of my biggest goals in my life is to make something with her,” Joey continued. “We are the stupidest people when we’re together. She is my favorite person. We are so goofy and I just want to make something—either a film about it, or a limited series, or a series—just about how silly we are.”
“The Kissing Booth 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.