True love never did run smoothly though. The Kissing Booth 2 sees Elle and Noah thrown into a long-distance relationship as Elle returns for her final year of high school and Noah heads off to college at Harvard. On top of that, Lee is struggling to balance his relationship with his girlfriend, Rachel, and his friendship with Elle—who is around even more now Noah has graduated.
We also meet a few new faces in the sequel. Chloe, played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Noah’s attractive college friend who Elle is worried is actually a little more than a friend. She’d probably be even more worried if she wasn’t so busy practicing to win a DDR competition with her new extremely hot frenemy Marco, played by Taylor Zakar Perez.
In anticipation of the film’s release, Girlfriend sat down with IRL best friends Joey King and Joel Courtney to chat about what it was like returning for the sequel, balancing friendships and relationships, and what they’re predicting for a possible third Kissing Booth film.
The Kissing Booth 2 kinda bucks the trend of seeing a character disappear into their first relationship, how’d you feel Elle went down a different road focusing on friendship?
King: I think Elle’s really good at balancing friendships with relationships. She is dating her best friend's brother so she doesn't have to stray too far away from her best friend when it comes to proximity, even though she is in a relationship. Honestly, I agree with that, though. I think that when you get in a relationship, one of the things that happens is that people do lose their identity a little bit and start to just kind of pull away from their friend groups. 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!
In the film, Elle is really caught between university, love, and friendship. What advice would you give her?
King: My biggest advice to Elle is don't throw your life away that you have planned for somebody that might not be 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. I think Elle's biggest problem that she has is being honest with the two people who mean the most to her and she tries to keep everybody happy and hide things. So I think my biggest advice would just try to be a little more transparent.
How was it playing with more emotional storylines this time around?
Courtney: The way that I look at Lee, is that 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 lives to love you know, and he loves with his entire being! When he feels like he's hurt someone or he's maybe messed something up a little bit, it really hurts him. It was really fun doing those heavy scenes. Megan Young is just insanely talented! She and I were able to really click and work with each other so well on both of these films and there's honestly no one else that I would have rather had across for me in those scenes. She's just such a talent. And we had just an amazing time filming heartbreaking scenes.
What was it like to work with Maisie and Taylor?
Courtney: Oh my goodness, Maisie and Taylor are just the sweetest, most talented, kind people on the entire planet! I have not that much time with Maisie on camera and it’s 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 being across the country. But I had some amazing times on set with Taylor, the sweetest guy, so talented. He really just came into The Kissing Booth universe and just fit perfectly.
King: I agree 100% with that. Both of them are now some of my closest friends in life and they came in and our whole cast and our whole crew just welcomed them with open arms and they just fit right in. 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 like they're the greatest people ever, truly!
Are you #TeamMarco or #TeamNoah?
Courtney: I'm Team Marco. He's just such a good guy! I feel like I'm a nice guy. I'm one of those like classic nice guys. So I root for the nice guy when I see him. Noah is more the bad boy turned a little softer, more in touch with his emotions. He's honestly trying to do a relationship the right way as opposed to all the flings that he had in high school.
King: I’m team… Narcos! I just combined their names. I don't know—another popular Netflix show. I think that you know, 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 like, watch him and see him in this role. But I think one of my favorite things about Marco is his introduction in the film! That alone is a huge reason to like him. It's just the funniest thing,
Is there something Elle did in the film that you’d do differently?
King: Yes, actually, I do not agree with the fact that Elle thinks step patterns are more important than choreography. I think getting the choreography is more important than the step patterns because that's where the fun part is.
Courtney: Oh, how wrong you are! Step patterns all the way.
Joel, your character gets caught up in a conflict between your best friend and your girlfriend in the movie. So if you would have done something differently, what would it have been? Who would you choose?
Courtney: Well, I think if you're going to be in a relationship with someone, I think you need to be willing to choose them 100% of the time. I also think that someone in a relationship that loves Lee would understand like "hey, this is my best friend. I'd very much like to spend some time with them, but I want to make you feel special above everyone else in my life." I think I would have been more straightforward than Lee in these circumstances. The crutches—he has some ploys and some tricks—and he's classic Lee, but I think a straightforward conversation would have been the better way of handling this situation.
How good were you at DDM prior to filming The Kissing Booth 2?
King: I am terrible at Dance Dance Mania or Revolution. I feel very fortunate that we had highly experienced choreographers helping us through because I needed help a lot! I love dancing, I love doing choreography, but if you put me on one of those machines, oh goodness,
Courtney: There's eye-foot coordination where you need to like, look at the screen and know what you're stepping on and then know what comes afterward. I remember Actually, we did it one time at an arcade Joey, and you kicked my butt. You are far better than I was! I do remember that.
King: (Laughs) Pish posh.
Do you have any predictions for what might happen in a potential sequel, The Kissing Booth 3?
Courtney: I think it’s one of those things where these people just need to make their own decisions. I think they need to find peace with that. It's almost like a codependent relationship between Elle and Lee. Like, we've always been there. It's always the two of us, we’re practically inseparable. When you find one you find the other, you know. I think it would have to be one of those things where they make their own decisions, and they live with it. They're out of high school, they're making big decisions and there would have to be a lot of peace with it.
King: I would like to see Elle take a gap year! Become a cat lady and a serial knitter. And, you know, maybe just start an Etsy shop, you know. I mean wishful thinking, am I right?
Courtney: I feel like those are your personal aspirations in life Joey.
King: I love knitting, okay, I really do!
The film ends with a choice, Elle is torn between going to Harvard to be with Noah or following her lifelong plan to go to Berkeley with Lee. Where do you think Elle should go to college?
Courtney: Berkeley, Berkeley, Berkeley!
King: As the girl herself, it's hard. 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. And I hope Netflix lets us find out what she does at some point.
Is there a scene your character wasn’t a part of that you wish you had filmed?
Courtney: You know what, Field Day was one thing that I wish I could have done more of. It was not to be though. Elle and Marco needed some competition and 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. When I read that scene, I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is gonna be so much fun.” And then we got there and Vince 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, “Nooo,” I was really bummed.
What inspiration do you draw on in how you play Elle?
King: Personally I didn't really have any! When I tackled 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 kind of took pieces of the people in my personal life that mean the most to me to create this fun rambunctious girl who just has a big personality and a really big heart. Her sense of humor is very similar to mine. I feel like Elle and I are pretty similar in a lot of ways.
How much closer have you gotten filming the sequel?
King: Joel is such a goofball and so am I. Especially when we get in a room together it's just non stop laughter! It was so much fun shooting with him.
Courtney: This was one of those times where you get to come back and be the character and everything but you also just get to come back and hang out with your best friends for three and a half, four months. 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 do you think has made The Kissing Booth series so popular?
King: I think what happened is people were given such amazing, incredible content because of how accessible streaming services are. But, I think streaming services really just pushed that drama side of things a lot. And even in their fun movies, there was a lot of drama. I think people crave those classic 80s rom coms that we just like weren't getting anymore. And so this movie kind of just tipping our hat off to all those wonderful 80s rom coms and we have the lovely Molly Ringwald to prove it! It's pure fun, no one can really be in a bad mood when watching The Kissing Booth.