If you’re already familiar with Joey King, you’ve likely seen her as Colin Hanks’ daughter, Greta Grimly, in the hit FX series Fargo. It’s a binge-watchable show that found a devoted audience over the course of three seasons while collecting multiple Golden Globes for its creators and cast. While away from the series, the 18 year-old actress has had a prolific year with six films in 2018: The Kissing Booth, Camp, Zeroville, Radium Girls, Slender Man, Summer ‘03, and 4 more set to drop this year: The Bayou, January Rain and Between Earth and Sky and the recently premiered hit mini-series The Act on HULU, based on the infamous and chilling real life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. We discussed her upcoming projects, finding first love on set with Jacob Elordi, and the challenges she’s faced having acted nearly her entire life.
You have so much on your plate this year, where to begin! Let’s start with Kissing Booth that just released, it’s your first leading role in a rom-com, what was the experience like for you performing comedy?
I absolutely love comedy. It is such a challenging and fun genre. Playing Elle Evans in The Kissing Both has been one of my favorite experiences to date.
You have chemistry both on and off screen with Jacob, at what point did you realize that chemistry was more than just acting?
I think after spending two months in the beautiful land of South Africa with both Joel and Jacob, it just was so clear how important they both were to me. They became my best friends and I would go to them for anything. But yes, Jacob is such a special person and being the Elle to his Noah was unforgettable. There was no “moment” even though people keep asking us that, it was just so refreshingly natural.
What preparations did you do for your snazzy Dance Dance Revolution moves...did you do a lot of practice for those dance scenes?
OHHHHH yeah, me and Joel rehearsed for quite a while leading up to the start of filming. I’ve never sweat so much in my life. I feel like they should make DDR an olympic sport.
At 18 years old, you’ve been acting for 14 of those years, how do you feel your acting has matured/evolved in recent years and do you feel like you grow with each role you take on?
I absolutely feel like i grow and change with each character I play. I think I’ve evolved in a lot of ways but something about me that has stayed the same, which I’m grateful for, is I’ve never lost my fearlessness. Even when I’m nervous, I try to always be fearless, which is something I myself am really proud of.
You’re stepping into the horror game again soon with the release of Slender Man. What were some of the challenges you faced shooting darker material?
Filming Slender Man was a blast. I know there has been some funky press around the release of the film lately, but what I really want people to know is our story is completely fiction. It's not based on nor does it have anything to do with the unfortunate true story out there. I speak on behalf of myself and the filmmakers when I say we would never sensationalize or disrespect anyones tragedies. I wouldn’t have been part of the film if I felt the subject matter was inappropriate. As far as challenges on set go...for me, a big one was probably all the mosquito bites I got while filming outdoors.
How did this experience differ from Wish Upon for you in terms of your mindset when filming?
It’s interesting because even when I am filming dark subject matter...I am still a big dork who likes to have good time. So I would say filming both were surprisingly silly and fun.
The trailer gave me chills, were you ever scared on set while filming the particularly scarier scenes?
I always try to put myself in a frightened frame of mind but I can’t help myself. I have a lot of fun while filming scary scenes.
When you have to perform something darker how do you connect to that mood? Do you tend to draw from experiences or do you draw from the moment?
Depends on the project, drawing from personal experiences is always something that I personally do if i can. I always try and put myself in my character's shoes and think “how would i be feeling if I were actually this person?”
Are you fan of horror films IRL? If so, what are some of your favs?
I am a fan....but I don't watch that many because im a big scaredy cat. I do find The Purge films particularly scary.
What are you most looking forward for fans to see with this year?
Well I’m absolutely shocked and so excited about all the love The Kissing Booth has received, but iI have a film coming out in September called Summer ‘03 that I’m insanely proud of and I can’t wait to see how people respond to it.
Tell us about Radium Girls?
Radium Girls is a movie I filmed about radium dial painters back in the 1920’s and how the toxicity of radium was kept under raps for so long and killing these poor women who worked with radium. My character Bessie makes it her mission to expose the U.S. Radium corp. It’s one of the most determined characters I’ve ever played. I’m so happy I got to portray her.
Let’s talk Zeroville. It has a lot of great names in it--lot of hilarious actors. What was it like to act surrounded by a bunch of funny dudes like Rogen, Ferrell and McBride?
Oh my gosh I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of being surrounded by your favorite comedy actors! That whole movie was so surreal to film. I remember how giddy I would get just hearing Seth Rogens iconic laugh everyday. You can expect a lot of punk rock vibes from my character Zazi. She’s a spunky girl and a loyal friend to James Franco’s character, Vikar.
Do you prefer comedy to drama and do you have a preferred genre or do you love each equally?
Comedy and drama both hold a very special place in my heart. They are both so fulfilling in their own ways. Comedy is something I would love to do more of in the future. Making people laugh is such a thrilling feeling. Drama is a genre I always love doing. Pulling emotions from my real life, and putting myself in my characters position and channeling all that energy into a performance...there’s no feeling like it.
When first approaching a role do you have a blueprint of the character or do you let the character evolve as you the filming progresses?
For me it’s both. I like to work out exactly who my character is but of course leave wiggle room for myself and the director to play with the character together.
Some actors use playlists to get into a role, does music ever play into your acting and if so, what music were you listening to get into the mood for Slender Man? Radium Girls? Zeroville?
I love using music to get into a role or just to listen to for fun on set! For Slender Man, there was a lot of night shoots. So myself and the other girls would be so tired that we would sing songs like “Call Me Maybe” at 4am just to stay awake. While filming Radium Girls, I listened to a lot of Queen... I don’t know why. Zeroville definitely had some rock vibes but James would also play a lot of Beyoncé while we were all getting ready in the mornings.
What has been the most satisfying part of transforming into a new role? Do you feel each role you take on shapes you in some way?
The most satisfying part is making my family, the people I’m working with, and myself proud.
How did you know at such a young age that acting was what you wanted to do with your life and did you ever imagine doing something else?
I’ve always loved playing pretend and I guess that was something I just never lost. Getting to professionally play pretend?! Doesn’t get much better than that. When I was in Kindergarten though, I wanted to be a chef....I know nothing about cooking.
Being so young in an industry known to be cut throat, how were you able to navigate through it at a young age without going bonkers or getting sucked into the glitz?
I have such a good family around me who always remind me what was most important in life. I’m really thankful for that.
What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far? Do you feel being a teenager in this industry that you face more challenges than someone older?
Whether you are in your teens, adulthood, or whatever age group, there are always going to be challenges no matter what. Hard work, positivity, and Capri Sun are three ingredients to having a good attitude towards it all.
Do you consider yourself more of a good girl IRL or do you have a lil wild child in you?
I guess it depends on what you consider wild. Is my ideal day of doing my sisters makeup, playing Monopoly, getting frozen yogurt, calling my grandma, and watching Rick and Morty considered wild??
Role selection is a multiple criteria decision making process. What are these criteria for you (e.g. the production, the co-stars, the story, the role itself, the perspectives for award/critical acclaim) and which of them you think as most important?
I always have to be passionate about the script, and I always love working with nice people. Being excited about the material makes you that much better of an actor and working with nice supportive people is what makes me love doing what I do so much.
You've also got several more films in production / pre-production, like The Bayou, alongside Gary Oldman. Are you nervous/excited to act with such a legend? What can you say about that film?
I can’t say too much about The Bayou but I can absolutely confirm that I’m peeing my pants with excitement. Gary Oldman has always been a giant inspiration of mine
Who are some people who have inspired you and are there any artists that you feel have really shaped you or trickled into your craft?
My mom, my sisters and my grandmother are the most inspiring people in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better support system. I have so many inspirations both male and female in this business. Just to name a few, Catherine Hardwicke, Emma Stone, Roland Emmerich, Jessica Chastain, and Octavia Spencer. I could sit here and list names of people I look up to allllll day.
You also have Camp, Between Earth and Sky and January Rain coming...
It’s important not to get too comfortable as an artist—there has to be something at stake that keeps one growing. What for you is at stake when you act? And what keeps you grounded as your success grows and you enter adulthood?
What’s at stake for me?? Well, my work makes me so happy and is such a big part of who I am. If I didn’t have my work, I would lose a big part of myself. My family and my friends have always kept me grounded.
You recently hit 3 million followers on Instagram, are you cautious about what you post knowing all those eyes on you, do you have a curated recipe for what you’re posting or do you have more a “don’t give AF” attitude about it?
I don’t plan my posts and I don’t have an Instagram “theme”. I’d say I’m pretty loosey goosey with how I run my social media. I just share stuff that means a lot to me, whether that is political issues, stuff that makeme smile, silly posts, etc. I just want people to have fun on my page.
What do you feel are the biggest pros and cons of social media with fans having such direct access to celebrities?
I’d say the biggest pro is being able to share your work and other things that are important to you with people who look up to you. The biggest con is letting it rule your life. You can’t get caught up in it and try not to let it be your source of happiness, or let it bring you down. At the end of the day, it’s just supposed to be fun.
What motivates you the most in life and what scares you the most?
My love of working is really the thing that motivates me most. Ghosts scare me a lot lol.
What’s something we’d be surprised to find out about you?
Sometimes I wash my hair with dog shampoo because it gets it really clean.
You’re definitely involved in activism, is there something social, political, or economic you would like to see change this year, especially during our current challenging political climate?
I really want to see Gun Control this year. America needs it bad. I would love to give a long answer on this but I simply know as a nation we need Gun Control.
What’s been the biggest highlight since you started your career in terms of people you’ve met or places you’ve been able to travel to?
I’m such a lucky girl. I’ve gotten to work with people I love and I’ve gotten to go to places I’ll never forget. An amazing moment for me was getting to film The Kissing Booth in Cape Town, South Africa. So many memories there.
Photographer: Ben Cope
Assistant: Malorie Mccall
Stylist: Dani + Emma
Hair: Aviva Perea at Starworks using Bio Ionic
Makeup: Allan Avendano at Starworks
using Juice Beauty
Manicurist: Jini Lin at SEE Management
Writer: Heather Seidler
Location: Studio 106