[Editor’s note: The following interview contains spoilers for The Lie.]
A few months ago, we reported Amazon Prime Video and Blumhouse were going to release eight genre movies that focus on diverse casts, female voices, and emerging filmmakers under the “Welcome to Blumhouse” banner. With the first of these films, Veena Sud’s The Lie, now streaming on the platform, I recently spoke to Joey King about being part of the project.
If you haven’t seen the trailers, The Lie follows a divorced couple (Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos) as they try to protect their daughter (King) after she confesses to a horrible crime. As the couple deals with the ramifications of their daughter’s actions, they are forced to decide how far they’re willing to go to keep her safe and protected from the authorities.
During the interview, Joey King talked about talked about working with Veena Sud, how The Lie asks how far you’d be willing to go to protect someone, what it was like filming in the Toronto winter, her thoughts on seeing movies in a theater or at home, David Leitch’s Bullet Train, what’s she’s learned as a producer, and more. In addition, she teased what fans can look forward to in The Kissing Booth 3.
Finally, before getting to the interview, here’s an exclusive featurette on the characters in The Lie:
During the interview you’ll reach a section where spoilers are discussed and when they end. It is clearly marked.
Collider: Were you prepared to have your Netflix Uglies project drop on the day you’re doing press?
JOEY KING: I mean, yes and no. I was kind of made aware it was going to drop, but I wasn’t really like, “Oh yeah, I know that’s going to drop.”
Got it, I won’t pressure you on that project. But jumping into why I get to talk to you with the film, how nervous were you to put the old videos of you in the movie when you were much younger?
KING: I think that was such a fun touch. And I love when people get to feel connected to a character and the fact that they were able to see footage of me when I was young in real life… I mean, I feel like it actually gives me a little bit more insight into who my character Kayla is.
One of the things that I really enjoy about movies is when they put you in a situation and you wonder, “What would you do if confronted with the same thing?” Can you sort of talk about the fact that everyone in the film is confronted with a choice, and what would they actually do?
KING: I think that’s what’s so interesting about this movie, it really does present the question how far would we go for the ones that you love, even if it was a big coverup of suspected murder. And something that’s so interesting about my character is, how far are you willing to let others go for you? Especially when you know you are telling quite a big lie.
Can you share a little bit about working with Veena Sud?
KING: Veena’s amazing. She’s so, so kind, but such a boss. I just love her so much. She was so much fun to work with and just so sweet and collaborative and I felt so safe in her arms. A character like Kayla is something that I was really excited and nervous about because I wanted to showcase her side that deserves empathy while also not giving away the ending. I mean, just working with Veena on that was such a treat.
I spoke to Peter earlier, and I wanted to specifically talk about that water scene with the bridge, because it looked like it was freezing cold when he had to jump into the water to look around. Can you share what filming that scene was like?
KING: Yeah. So you’re correct, the water was unbelievably cold, he was wearing a lot protective waters gear underneath his clothes. And when you’re kind of faced with such an uncomfortable situation, like going into freezing cold water in the middle of a Toronto winter, there’s nothing you can do but laugh about it. And Peter is so great, I mean, he was just cracking up the whole time trying to stay warm and trying to stay positive. Because at that point, if you don’t let yourself laugh about it, you’re just going to be even more miserable when you’re already freezing.
Completely, the movie is going to be coming out on Amazon, and you’ve also obviously worked with Netflix many times. You’re much younger than I am, and I’m curious if you have the same sort of need to see movies in a movie theater, or if you are just as comfortable watching stuff at home?
KING: So I think that since the pandemic started the absolute desire and need to go to the movie theater has just amped up for me, all I want to do is go to the movies, but I’m not going to, of course. But that’s all I want to do, I love a movie theater. I love just the experience of seeing a movie in theaters. But at the same time, we got to be safe, we got to adapt. And I’m trying not to look at necessarily adapting as a bad thing, I’m trying to look at it as a positive thing because we do have so much amazing things to watch right now. There’s so many things being produced, there’s so much being released, there’s definitely not a lack of choice. And so I’m very grateful for that, even if we do have to stay home and can’t go to a theater. I think that it sucks, but we got to adapt and we got to try and remain positive about it because we are lucky to still have choices.
SPOILERS START HERE
I definitely want to ask you a few spoiler type things that would run after the release of the movie. Did you guess the ending when you were reading the script or were you as surprised as the audience when you got to those final pages?
KING: I was completely shocked, I’m just absolutely shocked when I got to the ending of the story. I couldn’t believe it. But I have to say, I love that it pulled the rug out from under me, I was not expecting that ending. I was just so focused on what was happening that I couldn’t have even guessed that that would have happened. And I hope audiences are as shocked as I was when I first read it.
I think they, one hundred percent, will be. Even if they somehow got away with murder, do you think that the family could ever get back to normal?
KING: That’s a great question. And I think I’m probably going to say no. I wouldn’t know personally, because I’ve never murdered anybody and then tried to go back to normal, but I have a feeling it would not be very easy to continue your life as if nothing ever happened.
Was it difficult for you to play the character’s truth without tipping your hand to the audience?
KING: Yes, that’s a great point and a great question, it was and it’s something that I wanted to really figure out how to do. I wanted to give her heart, give her reasoning for the audience’s care and love and this stuff, yet not give away the ending. And I think that something that’s so interesting about her is even when it’s revealed what has happened she’s still not getting away with it scot free. I mean, she’s pulled of this gargantuan lie and tried to keep it up, which is just so unforgivable. But at the same time you have to wonder why did she do it? Okay, well, her friend asked her to help her out, she wanted to spend time with her boyfriend, fine, sure. But the real reason is, her parents are going through this crazy adjustment, they’re getting divorced and she’s feeling a little neglected from them. So even if it’s negative attention, she just wants their attention. And I think that gets into why Kayla did what she did, maybe there is a little bit more empathy there. But at the same time, I mean, damn, she’s crazy.
If someone wants to go back and rewatch the movie, would they find any clues in your performance that we might not notice the first time?
KING: That is something that I wanted to incorporate in my performance. I wanted people to be able to go back and kind of be like, “Oh, did I miss something.” And so there are small things, there are small moments, there are small nuances, but I definitely wanted to play into the kind of confusion of it all. And so I think it will be awesome if people want to go back and watch and see if they can spot the clues.
From a performance perspective, is this the kind of role where you depend, I guess more heavily on your director to guide you through threading that needle?
KING: I think that this kind of role is one where, when you’re working with a director like Veena who is so trusting and wonderful, it’s less about relying on her and her relying on me more than it is about collaborating and finding the specific nuances that make this character what she is together, it’s just really nice.
I am a big fan of David Leitch and I know that you’ve signed on to do Bullet Train, what can you tease about the project? What excites you about it?
KING: Well, I am in the throes of preparation for the project right now and so many things excite me about the project. It is one of the bigger challenges I’ve ever taken on and it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. And I cannot wait to tackle it and give this character the life that she deserves.
You’ve gotten into producing, you’ve been producing a lot recently. Talk a little bit about what you’ve learned over the last few years as a producer that you want to apply on future projects?
KING: I think one thing that you learn was how much work actually goes into each job on set. I mean, I’ve always had immense respect for the crew and for every producer on set and for everyone on set. It just kind of opened your eyes a lot about what goes into everyone’s job. And so just having the upmost respect and understanding of what really goes into making a movie every single day.
I’ve been asking this of a lot of the people I’ve been speaking to recently, as an actor, do you remember the last time you were really nervous stepping on a set, and what was the reason why you were nervous? Whether it be a monologue, whether it be having to do something, can you share one of those stories?
KING: Oh man, so every single job, the first day of every job I’m on very nervous. Well, the interesting point when you brought up about the monologue, it’s funny, I get nervous sometimes when I have yes, a monologue, but when I have a big emotional scene coming up. Which makes me really excited because I like being nervous. So anytime I have a character that has to go through a huge, emotional self discovery moment or something that’s really heavy, I get this rush of nervous energy. And I think what is so great about that, is that it helps me through the scene.
I know that the Kissing Booth movies are incredibly popular on Netflix, and I know you filmed the second and third one back to back. For fans of that series, what can you tease about The Kissing Booth 3?
KING: Oh man, I know that we left Elle with a huge dilemma on her plate. She was making quite a big suspicion, and so in this film we can expect that decision to be a huge key throughout the movie. But also, I mean, pick the fun that we had in the second movie movie and amplify it by 10. We had even more fun on the third and it’s the best thing ever, it’s so much fun to watch.
You’ve been working consistently for a very, very long time. And I know you have stuff… What can you tease people about, for fans of yours, about what’s coming up after Bullet Train?
KING: I have a lot of things that are coming up after Bullet Train. It’s just with all the COVID stuff happening, I have no idea what is going to be happening first. So I’m just hoping that the world gets back to normal and that we can all get back to work. Our industry is going through a really tough moment right now and so I’m just hoping we can get everyone back to work, and their families and they’re all safe and sound, and employed.
My last thing for you, what have you been binge-watching during the pandemic? What shows have you loved?
KING: Right now, I am going through the entirety of Seinfeld, and I binged watched Search Party. I’m watching a lot of stuff honestly, but right now I’m going to say Seinfeld.
Is this your first time watching Seinfeld?
KING: All the way through, yes. But not the first time I’ve ever seen it.
I completely understand, the show is incredible, but I’m sure you’re experiencing that as you watch it.
KING: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Exactly. Hey, listen, thank you so much for giving me your time and congrats on the movie.
KING: Thank you so much.