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INTERVIEW: Joey King Opens the Lid on Becoming the Monster in ‘Wish Upon’

Posted on: July 14th, 2017

Last week we brought you an interview with Ki Hong Lee, one of the lead players in John R. Leonetti’s latest teen shocker, Wish Upon, but we were granted more than just the one wish as we also got the chance to catch up with another key cast member.

Penned by Barbara Marshall (Viral) and starring Joey King, Ki Hong Lee, Ryan Phillippe, Shannon Purser and Sydney Park, Wish Upon relates the destructive tale of a bullied teenage girl who discovers a music box that grants her seven wishes … all of which come at a deadly price.

Ahead of the film’s release, SCREAM sat down with Joey King to find out how she got cast to play Clare in Wish Upon and what it was like getting to re-team with James Wan’s long time cohort, helmer John R. Leonetti…

SCREAM: You have been in horror films since quite the tender young age. Was that specific genre something you’ve always felt drawn towards?

Well I was seven when I first did Quarantine but I don’t know. It kind of just worked out that way. I definitely enjoy doing other genres as well as horror, but I just really like to show people the range that I can do and I’m happy that I’ve gotten to do very successful horror films of late.

SCREAM: You worked with John R. Leonetti when you were in James Wan’s The Conjuring. Did that have anything to do with you getting the lead role in Wish Upon?

It wasn’t a coincidence at all, no. When he signed on to direct Wish Upon, he asked me to do it with him. He called me up and said, “I don’t know if you remember me but I was the DP on The Conjuring.” Of course, I instantly remembered him because he was so incredibly amazing to work with. He’s a brilliant director and such a kind person.

SCREAM: Aside from getting seven wishes granted, what was the real draw when you read the script?

I think what really resonated with me was just how clever it was. There’s a big twist at the end. It’s one of those films where you’re expecting something different to happen but then I read the end and it was just so crazy. The script gave me chills when I was reading it and it really, really frightened me – getting to see this character that I was playing who was going through this character arc of being this lovely girl whose just really burdened by the tragedies of her past and who gets taken over and seduced by this box and she becomes a monster.

SCREAM: You definitely had your work cut out as Clare goes through quite the journey from being bullied to getting everything she thinks she wants before turning into this monster.

I want people to be terrified when they go home at night as a result of what happens to my character but I definitely think that our movie, although it’s a horror and a thriller film, I think it’s nice that we touch on the problems of bullying in school and hopefully people can take home a small piece of that with them along with being terrified.

SCREAM: Did you get much time to create your high-school background with your co-stars Shannon, Sydney and Ki Hong and also with your father in the film, Ryan Phillippe?

Everybody was just so unbelievably nice to work with. Sydney was hysterical and Shannon was someone you could confide in and take naps with and just hang out with and that’s like all I could ever ask for in a friend. And Ki Hong was like my absolute bestie on set. We had most of our scenes together and it was just so fun to get to work with someone like him while working on such heavy material.

Ryan is fantastic. We were very close friends on set and he still seems so young but he does have a nice fatherhood instinct and he does have a daughter my age so seeing him take me in as like a daughter was so nice and he was just an amazing scene partner. When we were acting together it felt like it was just him and I and no one else. It was amazing.

SCREAM: We have to talk about the other star which is of course the music box? Something tells me it’s much more of a challenge to create a rapport with an inanimate object?

It really is. You have to really train yourself to act with an inanimate object as if it is a real person because the box has such personality and it’s the lead of the film if we’re being honest. Just getting to work with the box and having it be there was amazing. I got to know the box like it was the back of my hand. The truth is that it is a very, very scary box, but I think I could handle it. (laughs)

SCREAM: The film’s rated PG-13 although it looks pretty horrific all the same.

If you’ve got a 13-year-old who’s brave enough then I’d say go for it. I’m actually quite glad we got a PG-13 rating because it means more people can see it. It’s definitely quite scary but I just hope as many people as possible can go and see it and love it as much as I did.

SCREAM: Can you see Wish Upon turning into a franchise? Can you imagine the box in different settings?

To be honest, I think they kind of overdo it with all these sequels and prequels after an original film has such a good run. I hope people see Wish Upon and love it but then maybe just make up what happens next in their own minds because it has such a crazy ending…

Wish Upon will be granting audiences wishes in theatres from today (July 14th).

Words: Howard Gorman – @HowardGorman

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