The Kissing Booth 3 wraps up its movie trilogy on Netflix with the release of the final movie.
Its star, and Executive Producer, Joey King chats about The Kissing Booth 3, how the movies changed her life, her favourite moments and saying goodbye to Elle…
Looking back on this journey from the beginning, what was it about the first Kissing Booth movie that you were drawn to?
My parents’ generation had The Breakfast Club. We didn’t have anything like this for my generation that was fun, that was lighthearted, that was just a really good time. Our lead girl, Elle, is not a nerd, and she’s not popular. She’s not an outcast. She’s not overly social. She’s just a girl. And I felt like her voice was just so in tune with mine, and I felt so connected to her immediately. I loved that she’s just who she is, and she is different because she’s just being who she is!
What’s your favourite memory from doing the first movie?
One of the craziest things was I had to start my journey by learning those dance routines with Joel, and we had so much fun together. Other than throwing down at the occasional Bar
Mitzvah, I didn’t have any professional dance training. And going through that process of learning those dances with Joel…oh my gosh! We would both get so frustrated with ourselves, but we had so much fun. We bonded so much in our rehearsals.
When did you realise that The Kissing Booth had become a real phenomenon?
I believed in the movie from the get go, but at the same time, it was just an independent film that didn’t have a lot of money behind it and we didn’t have a lot of time. We just kind of did it. We were all very proud of ourselves, but there was no game plan for marketing nor did we know if it would have a big life on Netflix. We were all just happy that we had a good time making it.
I remember the day that the trailer came out, I was really excited and made social posts about it. But then within about two days, it all of a sudden started to rack up views. We began to feel like, “Oh my God, people care about this. People want to see this.” The trailer views just kept getting higher and higher and higher… and then when the movie came out, it exploded.
What do you think people were responding to?
I think so much of it can be attributed to the writing. Our director and writer, Vince Marcello, is brilliant and adapted the book so well. The dialogue is so funny and so real. I love how we don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think audiences resonate with that, especially since there really hadn’t been a movie like this in quite some time. Just playful stuff.
What has the fan support been like?
It’s honestly unbelievable. Before the movie came out I had, just as a reference point, around 615,000 followers on Instagram. And now my numbers are much different than that. [She now has 18.2 million followers.] That’s a very obvious showing of the fan support. I’ve gone on to do various other projects as well and it’s amazing how fans have supported me along the way. It’s so great how so many of them have been just excited to see what all of us do. It’s really wonderful to see how it impacted them so much that they love all of us.
One of the big themes of these movies is the male-female friendship at their center between Elle and Lee. What do you think of that element?
Beth Reekles, who is the author of the books, was just so spot on with how those kinds of friendships are. One of my favorite things about these movies is that Elle and Lee’s friendship never amounts to anything else, iIt never leads to that romantic zone. It’s truly just a friendship. It makes me really happy because they are the most supportive people in each other’s lives. And knowing that they’ll always have each other is so beautiful. None of that ever feels flirtatious. I think that Joel captures that so well, Beth captured that so well, and our director Vince captured that so well.
Your character also has this dreamy romance with Lee’s brother Noah. What kind of feedback have you gotten about that from fans?
A lot of people do obsess about it and they’re very much invested in the romance of this movie, which is amazing. It’s a huge part of these films. It’s so beautiful, it’s so sweet. It’s young, teen love
What I also think is really exciting and interesting about it is we got really nervous about how the audience would react when we introduced Taylor Zakhar Perez as Marco in the second movie. But, I have to say I was also excited because I thought Taylor just killed it with that role. The fans were so accepting of him. I realized he was such a great guy and I was rooting for him, too. Seeing and following the fan reactions was a blast. They still loved Noah, but also loved Marco and felt so conflicted. I credit that to the writing – Beth and Vince did such a good job of making Marco truly the nicest guy that you couldn’t help but love him.
What was it like for you to step into an executive producer role on the second movie?
It was very, very exciting. I’ve been really interested in producing for a long time now. I’ve been an actor for almost 18 years and started out loving being in this business. It’s always made me want to learn more and be as involved as I can be and this new role was a big learning curve. Vince was always very collaborative with me on the first film. Once I became an EP, it was nice to have even more honest conversations with one another. We had lots of talks about the final cut together and our marketing vision. I feel really excited because I always have a lot of ideas and a lot of opinions, but now I’m actually able to express them.
I also grew up playing Elle. I’ve been in this character’s shoes for five years now so being able to have a say in a character that I love so much — and I am the demographic of the audience— it is exciting to have an effect on how the public gets to view that.
What was it like being a kind of leader on the set?
I always say my motto is: Don’t take yourself too seriously, get the work done and be as professional as possible. If you’re not having fun, why are you there?
We absolutely had fun which I believe is another reason why the films resonate with audiences, because we all love each other.
You had to wear wigs as Elle in the second and third movies because you were just coming off filming another role that required you to shave your head. Did Elle’s hair and wardrobe help you to get into character?
The minute I put that wig on and put on my cute Elle summery clothes, I just felt so much like her. I felt so happy being in her shoes. I personally don’t have a tailored-to-my-body summer
closet, but Elle does, so whenever I put on her clothes, I instantly felt more confident than whatever I came to work in. I even have my PJs tailored to my body [as Elle].
You mentioned those classic teen movies like The Breakfast Club. And you had the queen of those ‘80s John Hughes films, Molly Ringwald, on hand as Lee and Noah’s mom. What was it like to have her as a mother figure on set?
Molly is so much fun. I cannot even put it into words how grateful I am that she agreed to be part of these films. She really took care of all of us and also knew how to throw down with us. She gave me lots of advice. Like: If you’re not having fun, what are you doing? And if you’re not being respectful as a professional also, what are you doing?
It’s also cool because she brought her kids out with her. She just takes on that awesome mom role where she is such a great example for her kids.
In the third installment, Elle and Lee have a summer bucket list from when they were younger that they commit to completing during the summer before they go off to college. This includes skydiving, a flash mob, and lots of other activities that seemed like they must have been so fun to film. What was your favourite part?
My absolute favourite, which is only in the movie for like a few seconds, was sumo wrestling in the big suits. I have a whole four-minute-long video of us filming that. I have never in my life laughed harder. Every moment of filming with Joel is just always stupid fun.
What is your favourite memory from the third movie overall?
I think my favourite memory from doing the second and third movies was becoming friends with and getting to know Taylor. He is such an important part of my life now, I couldn’t imagine life without him. And even on top of that was the fact that we brought every single person back from the first movie, so we got to see everyone again. I love all of them. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know these people and gotten to come back and see all of them again. We had the privilege to all see each other again because of our fans. And we don’t take that lightly.
Elle is dealing with some heavier stuff in this one: making big decisions about college, figuring out her relationships with Lee and Noah, trying to earn money, facing the fact that her dad is having his own new relationship, looking after her brother. How did it feel to make that transition?
Our characters all grew up a little bit. I liked that we gave our characters a chance to become adults in a way that naturally happens as you learn through mistakes you make. You use what happens to figure it out and fix it. But I think in this movie there was a sense of becoming more mature and we got to do a lot of crazy cool stuff. I mean, we had a bucket list montage. We’re pretty lucky that we got to take these characters and bring them to bigger and better and higher places.
Without giving away too much, we can say that the movie’s ending gives us a sense of where Elle is headed in her future, and it’s a poignant and empowering conclusion for her. What did you think of her wrap-up?
Elle has to learn to make decisions for herself. I mean Elle is like me, Elle is at heart a big-time people pleaser and that’s wonderful, but sometimes it pays to be selfish. I think she learned that you have to make decisions for yourself in order to be truly happy. I’ve always loved this character’s dedication to her relationships. But I also love when she decides she should think for herself and no one else.
Which character’s journey is your favourite besides your own?
Oh man, my favourite, I have to say, is Lee. He’s such a good friend. A lot of times, he isn’t the best friend, but he always takes accountability and he loves Elle. He loves his friends and his family and his girlfriend just so ferociously. And I think that it shows in his wrap-up, too, that he has just become an even more wonderful version of himself. Every moment spent with Joel playing Lee, I’m in awe of how amazing he is at bringing that character to life. I watch him all day and he brings so much heart and humor and life to that character.
How did these movies change your life?
I am so proud to have worked on this trilogy and will be excited to show my kids when they’re in their teens. I made amazing friends. Then there’s the fan base, the way that the movie resonated with people across the world. It connects me with so many people with whom I would have never been connected. I was in an airport one time and this man, who was around 39, stopped me in the airport and said, “I love your movies!” It’s so wonderful how wide an audience it reached. I believed in it from the very first time I read that script and knowing the world felt the same way that I did is just priceless.
Read More: Quiz: How Well Do You Remember ‘The Kissing Booth 2’?