Joey King hit the big time with the 2018 Netflix romantic comedy “The Kissing Booth” and earned an Emmy nomination for his work in 2019’s “The Act,” a heartbreaking limited series about the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter, Gypsy Rose. She can now be seen in Hulu’s “The Princess,” where she learned action hero stunts, and is set to appear in Hulu’s adaptation of the Holocaust-themed “We Were the Lucky Ones.” Next up for King is David Leitch’s “Bullet Train,” a high-octane thriller out now. The heavyweight cast includes Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Zazie Beetz, Bad Bunny, Michael Shannon and Brian Tyree Henry. King plays Prince, a sinister and manipulative character with a British accent.
Prince is so much fun. What was your approach with her? Did you give him a story?
I played a lot on set with David [Leitch] because we didn’t know exactly how we wanted Prince to come out. We said, “Prince could go either way. She could just be extremely sinister, extremely clean and menacing. Or she might have a little edge over her where she seems psychotic. I said to David, “I have so many ideas for her, and I have a basic knowledge of who I think she is, so I’m going to give you seven different performances and you can choose your adventure. “
The characters are all on a train, and each car is almost its own world. What was it like being on this set?
It was so cool. The train was built [on a soundstage], and we had large LED screens broadcasting the different landscapes that were scrolling by. It was wild. When you’re parked and the car next to you starts to back up, you think you’re moving forward. It was like that every day. Our set was beautiful. I was on a bullet train and felt like I was back in Japan. I loved the path [Prince’s] dress and attitude fit so well into this world because everyone [on the train] has such distinct personalities and traits. She is fierce. She’s crazy, and I felt like a kid in a candy store when I walked into that setting as Joey just before I was Prince. I love being on the soundstages because it’s amazing what production designers and these teams can do in that space to make it feel like you’re transported somewhere else.
Your accent is so good. How did you prepare?
When I auditioned, I was told I had to have a British accent. I did minimal accent work before that, in my car, on the way to appointments, but I had never had any specific training in it. I had a dialect coach, Jamison Bryant, who is amazing. We worked together every day, for at least an hour, sometimes two to three hours. We went through different types of accents and presented it to David with a few options. One of my favorite ways to get a character is to read the whole script out loud with that accent. This is great practice because you want to do it right.
What about the physical side of the role? Did you have to prepare a lot for this?
I have much less [need] action than many other characters. My character’s greatest strength is her mind, and she uses it to the best of her abilities. She doesn’t like to get her hands dirty, but she loves to manipulate. But I was training for my role in “The Princess,” and what a different experience that was. I had just been in a huge action movie where I couldn’t really get super immersed in the action. So I’m the star of an action movie, and I had to learn to do everything.
Things you didn’t know about Joey King.
Age: 23 years old
Hometown: Los Angeles
Let’s get physical: She finds stunt training difficult, calling her work on “The Princess” one of the hardest things she’s ever done.
On Track: She says she’d be Diesel if she was a character in a live-action Thomas the Tank Engine movie.