The No. 1 ‘Kissing Booth’ (and Joey King) stan: Howard Stern?
When “The Kissing Booth” first debuted on Netflix a couple of years ago, it became a phenomenon with teenagers. The romantic comedy was loathed by critics but beloved by young fans, who watched the movie millions of times and made its then little-known stars verifiable Hollywood draws.
And hidden among the masses was one unexpected fan: Howard Stern.
On Tuesday, the oft-foul-mouthed Sirius radio host made the “big decision” to “come out of the closet” as a “Kissing Booth” stan. A sequel to the 2018 film dropped on Netflix last month, and Stern said he loved the second installment just as much. So he decided to have Joey King, the movie’s 21-year-old lead actress, on his show.
“When I say Joey King is my favorite actress, people say, ‘Oh, ha-ha-ha.’ Like that. I go: ‘No. I’m not making a joke. I’m saying this is what I like,’” Stern told King.
While she has an impressive 16.6 million followers on Instagram, King is no doubt lesser-known to Stern’s audience than some of his other recent guests like Seth Rogen or Katy Perry. Before she was in “The Kissing Booth,” King was best known as a child star, and has only in recent years started to gain a mass audience. Since her role in the teen flick, she scored an Emmy nomination for playing Gypsy Rose Blanchard in Hulu’s “The Act,” and will soon star opposite Brad Pitt in an action-thriller.
Stern complimented King extensively on her performance in “The Kissing Booth” movies, however, surmising that when she got the script she was likely not impressed with its quality.
“Listen, it is not the most well-written script,” the shock-jock said. “You took a script that was mediocre and elevated it. That’s a sign of a good actress. I could watch you all day. Because let’s face it: It is not the greatest script. You’ve got a charisma. And you know it.”
The original film was based on a story written by a 15-year-old on Wattpad, an internet self-publishing platform. It tells the story of a spunky high schooler, Elle (King), who catches feelings for a hunky classmate (Jacob Elordi) while in the midst of organizing a charity-themed kissing booth event with her best friend (Joel Courtney).
“I thought about why I like ‘Kissing Booth’ so much,” Stern explained. “‘The Kissing Booth’ is so opposite of my life, and so opposite of my high school experience. I was nonexistent. I was not even bullied because no one even knew I was there. I mean, I was invisible. So when I see you in ‘The Kissing Booth,’ it looks like so much fun. And the kids are hooking up, and they’re having a kissing booth to raise money for charity. It’s like everything I would want out of high school.”
Part of the fan base’s obsession with the movie was the fact that when the 2018 film was released, King and Elordi were a real-life couple who documented their PDA-heavy relationship all over Instagram. They have since broken up, and had to shoot the second and third movies as exes.
Stern, of course, wanted details about that awkward on-set tension, but King didn’t give much. While she acknowledged the experience wasn’t “easy,” she said she was committed to filming regardless of her personal feelings.
“The idea that you date and the relationships don’t go on forever I think is a good thing, that you and Jacob broke up,” Stern said.
“Me too. I think it’s a great thing. I also think it’s a good thing that we dated in the first place,” King responded.
Stern questioned her further, asking if she’d ever date a fellow actor again. King adamantly insisted she would not, saying that the competition between two actors for success in the entertainment industry can come between a couple.
“If you’re thinking that your partner’s not going to be happy for you, you’re already kind of manifesting a problem even if it’s not there,” she said. “I don’t think that there’s any reason for people to compare us like they do all the time. We dated for a minute and now we’re completely separate people with completely separate careers.”
Stern also grilled King about how much clout she has with Netflix now, following the success of “The Kissing Booth” movies. The actress said she hears from the company’s co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, “more than the average person” and received a gift basket with Champagne and caviar from the streaming giant for her 21st birthday.
“And I would think with ‘Kissing Booth 2' you had these guys over the barrel financially,” Stern said. “You’re the star. If you’re not in it, I’m not watching it. I would think your agent went in on ‘Kissing Booth 2' and slammed them. I mean, you have to.”
“Second movie, yeah, we were like, ‘Oh, yeah, cool, let’s go back. But also, let’s do it right,’” King admitted.
Stern went on to confess that he’d been sent “The Kissing Booth 2" early by Netflix because he was such a big supporter of the franchise. (The company declined to comment on his fandom.) Growing slightly uncomfortable, he asked King to reassure him that there were other surprise fans of the films: “Has Tom Hanks called you and said ‘This movie saved my life’?”
Hanks, she said, had not called. But Jeff Garlin had.
That was enough for Stern, who said he’d rather watch “‘Kissing Booth’ every day” than a sports game. He did have one gripe with the sequel, however: the height differential between King, 5 foot 4, and Elordi, 6 foot 5.
“There’s a big difference in height between you and Jacob,” Stern said. “Don’t you think they should have put you up on more of an apple box and stuff during some kissing scenes? Because you’re much shorter than him. Why didn’t they pay attention to that? I take umbrage with the director.”
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