Joel Courtney Bids Adieu to The Kissing Booth

Between the epic Mario Kart scene, the flash mob, and the cliff jumping, The Kissing Booth 3 is the epitome of summer fun. 

Yeah, we had so much fun. The Mario Kart scene, that is actually something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I never really thought of officially making it a bucket-list item, but I have always wanted to drive go-karts and throw bananas at people. So that was actually a bucket-list dream come true for me. It was a tough process actually filming that [scene]. It was meant to be done in a couple of days, but it took so much specificity in getting all of the shots of all the actors, and then we’re also moving at the same time, so focus was always a struggle. Sometimes, we were being towed, and sometimes, we were free driving. It was an adventure. But I would have to say one of my favorite bucket-list items [from the film] was sumo wrestling with Joey. I was laughing so hard while we were filming that scene and wearing the sumo suit. I couldn’t stand up. People had to come in and pick me up and put me back on my feet so we could start filming and run around again. I have to say sumo was maybe my favorite to do. 

Lee and Elle’s rules are a consistent thread throughout all of the films. Do you have a favorite rule that you live by in your own life? 

Yeah. Oh shoot, what rule number is it? For the life of me, I cannot remember the rule number, but it comes up in the first movie, and it’s “If you can’t tell your best friend about something, you shouldn’t be doing it.” That’s something I live my life by for accountability. Like if I can’t tell my wife that I’m doing something, I shouldn’t be doing it, right? And it extends to my friends, protecting them, respecting them, honoring them as friends. If this is something I am going to have to make up for or apologize for or is wrong in general, I should not be doing it. And I catch myself with that rule sometimes. Ugh, what number is it? It’s killing me! I’m going to go watch the first movie again. 

Your on-screen mom is Molly Ringwald, who is beloved for such classic teen rom-coms as The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. What did you enjoy most about working with her? Did she share any tips? 

What a legend. Molly is amazing. Having her on set was so much fun. Joey really carried these films on her shoulders. They would not be the movies they are without Joey King. And I find, for myself, that whenever Molly was on set, there was a groundedness and a curiosity for me. When Molly was on set, I just wanted to hear her talk and listen to her tell stories and reminisce or just glean wisdom from her. She was Joey King before Joey King was born, you know? She was the original rom-com queen. And here we are, however many years later, and we are making a hit rom-com. Having her on set, I don’t know. There was a generational passing down of the baton. It was just so cool. 

The Kissing Booth has amassed a huge following and is one of Netflix’s most-watched films of all time. What do you think is the secret sauce of this franchise?

I don’t know if I can boil down the secret sauce into one ingredient. This was a labor of love. It was not easy. If it came down to one thing, I would say it was Vince Marcello’s vision. Our director had the clearest idea in his head about what these films could mean to people, and he just put his entire being into making these movies the best that they could absolutely be. The devil is in the details, and he was on the details. He was all over the details. The details didn’t know what hit them. It was meticulous. Honestly, it came down to clothes complementing each other, color schemes progressing, things that I didn’t even know went into making movies. Vince perfected The Kissing Booth franchise. On top of that, there’s also Joey’s performance that carries the films through. There’s the romantic relationship of Noah and Elle and Jacob [Elordi] just coming in and being the perfect Noah. The friendship between Elle and Lee. There are so many things and so much hard work that came from all the departments. Props, hair and makeup, wardrobe, the ADs, our PAs on set, the sound department, everybody worked their butts off and gave their all for these movies, and I think that’s what really makes these movies shine.

What has surprised you most about the reaction to The Kissing Booth? Any unexpected fans you discovered?

The reaction from the first movie blew me away. It’s not that I called it, but when I was done filming and we were flying back to the States—because we filmed in South Africa—I remember calling my manager and telling her this felt different. I don’t really know why. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it felt really good on set. I just felt amazing leaving the set from the first movie. I thought, “This is going to do really well.” It was such an overwhelmingly positive experience. I remember telling [my agent] this. And then, the movie comes out, and it just explodes to a degree like nothing I have been a part of or done. It’s such an epic experience. Yes, for us, it is work. You are on set, it’s hard, you are working long hours, but at the end of the day, it’s entertainment, and people get to see it, and you hope that they like it. The love we have received on this franchise is so overwhelming. It’s why we do it. That kind of reception is what everyone hopes for, just lavishly given love and so much support. I’m also a fan of the movies. They still make me laugh and cry. I get so invested.

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