'Wish Upon' Star Joey King Talks Horror Film And Skipping High School Life

Wish Upon Joey King 

What’s worse than being a teenager? Adding the supernatural element to surviving high school life. Joey King stars in WISH UPON, a horror thriller set around an ancient box that grants seven wishes. King plays a teenage girl hoping for a better life for her and her father, and improving her situation in high school. However, there’s a deadly price for her wishes.

Joey King tells CineMovie the film not only entertains with tales of horror, but there’s a moral story behind it. King plays Clare Shannon, a high school teen who reels from losing her mother at a young age and struggles with her home life with a father (Ryan Phillipe) who rummages through the trash for a living. In school, she crushes on the popular high school boy but his girlfriend and her crew constantly target Clare and her friends with insults.  

“I definitely think it’s nice that my character does go through a lot of hard times in school.  I think it’s nice that we bring light to that in this film. I want people to take away from being terrified in this movie to hopefully a good message about how bullying is not right at all.”

Interview: Ryan Phillippe and Joey King on Playing Father/Daughter In Horror Flick

The 17-year-old actress goes through a range of emotions in WISH UPON as a conflicted teenager longing for a better life at home and in school. King has been acting since the age of four so she’s learned to the “shake the emotions” once the director yells cut.

“You get yourself into this mental state of a dark place so when they yell cut, the emotions are still there - you just have to stop yourself.”

Ryan Phillipe. Joey King and Sherilyn Finn in WISH UPON

King is a pro even before she hits the legal age of adulthood. This is her second rodeo in the horror genre after playing one of the young daughters in James Wan’s THE CONJURING. She felt right at home on the WISH UPON set with director John R. Leonetti who served as the director of photography on THE CONJURING. Having a familiar face directing her, made her feel comfortable as the lead star in WISH UPON.

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While the high school campus setting may be a familiar place in most movies, the faces of WISH UPON tell a different story.  The supporting cast reflects what the real world looks like with actors Sydney Park, Ki Hong Lee (THE MAZE RUNNER) and Alexander Nunez representing diversity. Luckily the film doesn’t play into high school stereotypes, and on screen you see a blossoming relationship with King and Lee’s characters.  

“Hopefully it will be the norm,” says King about the interracial on-screen couple. “Ki Hong is amazing. He’s such an amazing co-star and we just had the best time together. It’s great to have real-life chemistry on screen with our characters. It keeps you going. For a lot of the scenes, I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to perform as well as I did if Ki Hong wasn’t there to make me feel so good.”

Wish Upon Joey King Ki Hong Lee

Films like WISH UPON and Netflix’s 13 REASONS WHY are a reminder of how tough high school life could be. Luckily as a working underage actor, King doesn’t have to experience that awkward phase because of her home and on set schooling, but she does recall having a rough experience in elementary so she’s not missing much.  

“My social life is good. I have a great family so I feel okay that I didn’t go to high school.”  

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The young actress’ long-term goal is to keep working as an actor and eventually earn that award every filmmaker or actor covets.

“My absolute goal is to win an Academy Award,” says the 17-year-old.. “I want to keep on the path that I am. I love working. I have such a good family. I’m very lucky that I have them surrounding me along this journey that I’m on.”

And what a journey. Joey King has been working since the age of 4, and the busy actress has 55 credits to her name, according to IMDB, and she’s not even 18 yet.  When it comes to picking the right projects, she loves reading scripts and choosing the strongest material.

Coming, up she has two films in the fall playing a runaway in SMARTASS and THE KISSING BOOTH based on the book.  “I’m so excited for people to see that film,” says the teen about the latter movie. She describes it as a “funny, funny” teen rom-com.

Good thing Joey King followed up WISH UPON with a comedy because this horror film is a intense one.  WISH UPON opens in movie theaters July 14.

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