It was an ungodly hour when we had our video call with The Kissing Booth 2 stars, Joey King and Joel Courtney—7 a.m. (A bit dramatic, I know.) But as how press interviews have adapted in the time of the pandemic, our subjects and us journalists flashed camera-ready smiles at each other all while running on every ounce of caffeine we had in our bodies. Not to be cheesy—what the heck, this is The Kissing Booth, I might as well be cheesy—but, I swear, it was love at first sight with these two actors, for me at least. Joey and Joel were bright balls of energy (it probably was not 7 a.m. wherever in the world they were) who were just as infectious and hilarious as their on-screen counterparts, best friends Elle Evans and Lee Flynn.
The Kissing Booth 2 starts where we left off in the first film, with Noah (Jacob Elordi) leaving for Harvard and Elle starting her senior year in high school with Lee. What transpires isn't just the difficulties of a long-distance relationship between Elle and Noah, but of Elle growing as her own person—apart from her lover and, more so, from her best friend.
Cosmopolitan Philippines got to talk to real-life besties Joey and Joel about their wildly popular movie franchise (Netflix just announced that Part 3 will be released in 2021—and that it's already been filmed!), what it was like working with their new co-stars Taylor Zakhar Perez and Maisie Richardson-Sellers, and, most importantly, why they're both Team Marco.
How much closer have you guys gotten now that you've filmed the sequel?
Joey: Joel is such a goofball and so am I, especially when we get in a room together. Oh my gosh, it's just nonstop laughter! It was so much fun shooting with him.
Joel: This was one of those times where you get to come back in the character and everything, but you also just get to hang out with your best friends for three and a half, four months, you know. It was such a pleasure. I am exactly as goofy as I can possibly be when I'm around Joey, I don't know what it is, she just brings it out of me and totally supports me in it.
What's your favorite rom-com of all time?
Joey: Can I be honest with you? I love rom-coms but I'm not a huge rom-com watcher. I will say that one of my favorite rom-coms of all time is 50 First Dates. That is a great movie.
Joel: Maybe not like a classic rom-com, but The Proposal is one of my favorite movies of all time. I could sit down and watch The Proposal just about any time. And if someone shouts it out randomly, I'm down.
What was it like to work with Maisie and Taylor?
Joel: Oh my goodness, Maisie and Taylor, just the sweetest, most talented, kind people in the entire planet. I haven't had that much time with Maisie on camera and it is one of the saddest things for me. I wish that we had more scenes together. It just didn't work out, you know, with Harvard and LA and just being across the country. But I had some amazing times on set with Taylor, the sweetest guy, so talented. And he really just came into The Kissing Booth universe and just fit perfectly, you know.
Joey: I agree 100 percent with that. Both of them now are some of my closer friends in life. And they came in and our whole cast, our whole crew just welcomed them with open arms and they just fit right in. They're just the nicest people—both of them are the type of people that would just do anything for anybody. They're so generous, so loving, so talented. We honestly hit the jackpot! They're the greatest people ever. Truly.
Lee has been caught up in this conflict between his best friend and his girlfriend in the movie, so if you would have done something differently, what would it be?
Joel: Well, I think if you're going to be in a relationship with them, with someone, I think you need to be willing to choose them 100 percent of the time...I think I would have been more straightforward than Lee in these circumstances—the crutches; he has some ploys and some tricks; he's classic Lee—but I think a straightforward conversation would have been the better way of handling this situation.
On Lee's more ~emotional~ storyline in the film:
Joel: So the way that I look at Lee is he loves with his whole heart. So when he's joyful, he is the happiest guy on the planet. And when he's hurting, he is in pain on his deepest level. He just loves to love, you know, and he loves with his entire being. So when he feels like he's hurt someone or he's maybe messing something up a little bit like he really—it hurts him. So it was really fun doing those heavy scenes. Meganne Young is just insanely talented. She and I were able to just really click and work with each other so well on both these films, and there's honestly no one else that I would have rather had across from me in those scenes. She's just such a talent.
Is there a scene that Lee wasn't a part of that you wished you had filmed?
Joel: Oh my goodness, you know what, Field Day was one thing that I wish I could have done more of. Elle and Marco needed some competition, a little bit of setting up for their characters to despise each other a little bit more. I really like those Field Day kind of activities and physical exercises like that, so when I read [the scene], I was like, oh my goodness this is gonna be so much fun! And then we got there, Vince [Marcello, the director] was like, so here's what's happening, you're not doing any of that, you're gonna be over here. And I was like, Oh, noooo! I was really bummed.
On finding inspiration for playing Elle:
Joey: When I tackle this character, I felt like she's just a girl that I would want to be really close friends with, and somebody that I would want to introduce my friends to as well. And so I just kind of took pieces of people in my personal life that mean the most to me to just create this like fun rambunctious girl who has a big personality and a really big heart. But also her sense of humor is very similar to mine, so I feel like Elle and I are pretty similar in a lot of ways.
On Elle balancing her friendship with Lee and her relationship with Noah:
Joey: I think Elle's really good at balancing friendship with a relationship...I think that when you get into a relationship, one of the things like people do lose their identity a little bit and start to kind of pull away from their friend groups. And the most important thing is to just find balance. I think Elle has always been pretty decent at that—she has her ups and downs and gets herself into some pickles every now and then. But all in all, she's a smart girl who has to just figure some things out.
As Joey, what advice can you give Elle?
Joey: Don't throw your life away—that you have planned—for somebody that isn't the best partner to you. But also, don't make your decision based on what your friend just wants you to do. You have to make a decision that makes you happy. So weigh your options, think about it hard. But I think Elle's biggest problem is being honest to the two people that mean the most to her and she tries to keep everybody happy and hides things. So my biggest advice: Try to be a little more transparent.
Where do you think Elle will go to college: Berkeley or Harvard?
Joel: Berkeley, Berkeley, Berkeley!
Joey: You know, as Elle herself, it's hard. She knows she's torn between a promise she made her best friend and a life with her boyfriend and she doesn't know what to choose. But I trust her to make the right decision.
Why do you think The Kissing Booth is insanely popular?
Joey: I think people crave those classic '80s rom-coms that we just like weren't getting any more. And so [with] this movie, [we're] kind of just tipping our hat off to all those wonderful '80s rom-coms, and we have the lovely Molly Ringwald to prove it. And I just think that it's pure fun, like, no one can really be in a bad mood from watching The Kissing Booth.
Are you Team Marco or Team Noah?
Joel: I'm Team Marco. He's just such a good guy. And I feel like I'm a nice guy, I'm one of those classic nice guys, so I root for the nice guy when I see him. Noah is more of the bad-boy-turned-a-little-softer, more in touch with his emotions, and he's honestly trying to do a relationship the right way as opposed to all the flings that he had in high school. But there's something about a nice guy, you know.
Joey: I'm Team Narcos—both of them! I just combined your names. I don't know, another popular Netflix show! I think that Elle has a lot of stuff on her plate, a lot of figuring out to do. And here's the thing for me, it's difficult to say because whatever I say will be really read into by the fans. But I do agree with Joel, there is something so special about Marco. He is such a wonderful guy played by a wonderful person, Taylor Perez. And it was just a real treat to watch him and see him in this role. But I think one of my favorite things about Marco is his introduction in the film, so that alone is a huge reason to like him. It's just the funniest thing!
The Kissing Booth and The Kissing Booth 2 are currently streaming on Netflix.
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