Their Kissing Booth 2 characters, Marco and Chloe respectively, add that all-important second film relationship drama to Noah and Elle's long-distance situation. Perez's Marco is an unreasonably good-looking and charming Latinx student who goes from frenemy to DDR competition partner to something *else* with Elle. Meanwhile, Chloe is a wildly smart and charismatic Black college student who Noah befriends at Harvard—adding to Elle's nervousness about Noah being so far away. The thing is, both characters are so genuine and likeable that even though they're ~the other~ guy and gal, you can't help rooting for them in every scene they're in.
Girlfriend caught up with Perez and Richardson-Sellers to chat what it was like joining the cast of this juggernaut movie. They dish on working with Joey King and Joel Courtney (take a peek at what they said here), what they hope people see in their characters and, of course, what it was like filming Marco's infamous introduction.
Taylor, what was it like joining the cast at this point of The Kissing Booth cinematic universe?
Perez: It was fantastic. You know, going into such a strong IP from Netflix was a little intimidating for me because you have all these fans from the first film that were, you know, die hard. And so you’re bringing this these characters into the mix that are going to kind of stir the pot a little bit.
And you’re the other guy…
Perez: … I am. I am the other guy. And I just hope that Marco comes across as respectful and supportive. And just adds value to The Kissing Booth universe. I think that it is very exciting to add this new dynamic to this pre-existing world.
Maisie, it feels like you have the best job in The Kissing Booth 2. Because you play this character that is the epitome of cool. What is it like playing someone who has everything figured out and has everything completely under control?
Richardson-Sellers: There is this amazing thing that happens when you're really prepared. I’ve created this character from scratch and I have all her deepest, darkest fears in my mind. All her triumphs and struggles. I know her inside out. So then, when you put that outfit on, those heels on, you got the makeup on, and you step out, it just happens. It's this weird moment where it just happens. And that’s me. Like, "this is it. I’m ready." And you just become this person.
She [Chloe] sort of just blows through you and embodies you. And then, at the end of the day, after it’s all over, I feel like I miss it. It was really fun. And I think since then, I’ve found ways to try and bring Chloe into my life. Everyday. Because she inspires me. I love that confidence and that sort of effortless ease that she has. I love the way she’ll bolster everyone around her but still be cheeky and playful. I learned a lot from her. And I hope other people will be inspired by what a strong, independent woman she is.
How did you feel joining such a big project with a cast who'd been together for the first round?
Richardson-Sellers: Well, you know, it is a little nerve-wracking because you're going into a family that's already been created. There are always those nerves, it's like being on the first day of school except everyone else has already been at school for a year and you're like, are they gonna like me? It just smashed all of my expectations. Everyone just opened their arms to us. I remember I got to South Africa and Vince our wonderful producer and director had organised this dinner for us all.
We all met and we just talked and talked and talked and I just completely relaxed, like, this is gonna be so much fun. And it was! It was just a sort of instant bond, instant family. And you know, when you're on location for four months together, you are kind of all that you have for a support network. Every time we were off set together we were climbing mountains, we were doing tasting menus, we were travelling around just discovering this beautiful 'host place' that we were in together, which was a really special experience.
How did you want your characters to come across to people, especially since we first meet them through Elle's kinda biased eyes?
Richardson-Sellers: It's interesting! It's such a delicate line with Chloe, between wanting the audience to feel that threat which is a very valid sense of threat but also, you know, you kind of hate that you like her, but also like that you hate her. I love playing with that for as long as we can.
Perez: Yeah, I love that. I don't want want to speak for you, but I think that we're on the same page with this. I wanted my character to come off so authentically not a threat. Our intention is not to ruin these people's lives or to change their life, it's just to be who we were in this world and if things happen they happen. I love that about Marco where he was unabashedly himself and he's kind of cocky and he's fun and he's competitive and he's not gonna gossip about anyone he's always gonna be truthful.
I felt through and through with, with Chloe and with Marco, they were very authentic and weren't slimy whatsoever. Usually, I think in a YA film, you kind of have a little salaciousness to the opposing character the opposing view. I'm just so grateful that Vince went in with all good intentions when writing these characters.
Richardson-Sellers: I think Marco has the best introduction of any character throughout cinematic history. That whole montage. Every time it just gets me. Like I want that every time.
Taylor, your character ends up standing in for Lee to compete with Elle in the Dance Dance Revolution/Mania (DDR/DDM) competition. How good were you at it before filming The Kissing Booth 2?
Perez: To be completely honest with you, I had never stepped foot on a DDM machine in my life. It's was always intimidating, growing up going to the arcades and seeing the older kids on the DDM machine and just killing it. So when I found out it was on a DDM machine, I was a little scared you know cause there are four arrows on each side but four metal squares on each side. You know, you like had to hit certain things for step accuracy and your choreography. And you find out in the film that judges score on step accuracy and choreography, so you have to give perfect step accuracy and perfect choreography.
It was very hard, not even gonna lie, but with hours of rehearsal and just getting the technical down to let it go, it became easier and easier. After the first week and a half I was like, "Okay, I got this, I got this."
Richardson-Sellers: I have such respect for you, Tay. If it was a real dance competition, you'd be practising and then you do it once and you're done. But you were filming for hours and hours and hours and I can only imagine, the umpteenth time what that must felt like to try and to stay focused and keep that same energy.
Perez: Well, thank you. I appreciate that! And you and when you were shooting pool, I never got to see it, but in the final cut, I know that was you.
Richardson-Sellers: It was me! Thank you.
We have to ask, what was it like filming Marco's introduction?
Perez: It was really funny. I mean, my first time reading it, I just started laughing. Because we weren't privileged enough to get the script before our audition. I didn't get it until a few days before leaving for South Africa. So I was reading on the plane and I was sweat laughing because I'm like, "Oh, my God, I have to film this thing."
A memorable moment is when I got these shorts, and they were down to my knees. And our wardrobe girl had disappeared. And so Vince and I, were like, "where is she? Where is she?" And he's like, "Can we just like hem it up a little bit more?" And I said, "Yeah, does anyone have double-stick? Like, "I'm from the theatre, I know double stick, let's do this!" And so Vince is on one leg, and he's double sticking my shorts up. I'm on my other leg double sticking it. We get it done in a jiff.
And when we start doing the setup, he's like, "Okay, this is the chest shot. This is a sweaty arm shot." And then the final one was the butt shot. I was so... not embarrassed, but like, "okay, this is where it's like a full shot of my butt lifting weights. Let's just breathe through it." And it was an experience, especially because I forgot that we were in kilograms. I thought I was like, super buff and I was going to lift 100 pounds. Little did I know... it's like, what, 2.2 times the amount of weight. The whole crew was laughing at me. They were thinking that I was big muscle guy like "no, I thought this was pounds, everyone!" It was fun. Vince and I were laughing the whole time. And he's like, "look at this, look at this!" and I'm like, "I can't look at this!"
We know the choice Elle makes, but are are you #TeamMarco or #TeamNoah?
Perez: I'll start. I'm gonna I you know, I'm unapologetically team Marco, for sure I am. I love Marco. I think he has the best intentions. I think that they could have a great relationship if they ever had one so I think we should push for team Marco.
Richardson-Sellers: It's so hard! I feel so torn in my heart. I am team Marco because I feel like they are in the same situation in life and in the same geographical location and Marco such a sweetheart. From hanging out so much with Noah, I feel like Noah is in an entirely different chapter of his life. I don't want them to ever hold each other back. I only want them to bolster each other. That being said, I've also seen the intensity of their love for each other. And I am a sucker for love. So Elle needs to step it up and make the decision for all of us.