Wish I Was Here‘s Joey King Talks About Her On-Set “Besties” James Franco and Zach Braff and Having Her First Kiss on Camera

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For an actor her age, Joey King has played quite a variety of characters: from the sister of Selena Gomez to a small china doll in Oz the Great and Powerful. She’s also played her fair share of daughters, calling everyone from Channing Tatum to Steve Carell “Dad.” In Wish I Was Here, King adds Zach Braff to that growing list. King plays Grace, the family’s eldest child and, in many ways, the only one who’s not completely lost. King spoke with Celebuzz about on-set jokes, being “besties” with James Franco, and having her first kiss on-screen.

Well I saw Wish I was Here last night and I was not prepared to cry so much.
Oh yeah, you cried?

I sure did. I think the worst part for me was when you give Mandy Patinkin [who plays her grandfather in the film] the welding glasses.
That part made me cry too. I’m gonna be honest with you.

You have a lot of emotional moments in this film. How do you prepare for scenes like that?
Honestly I think that when I prepare for scenes like that I just have to put myself in the character’s shoes and it just kind of happens I guess. You know, live the way they’re living for that moment. You just really have to picture yourself as them.

What kind of work went into understanding your character’s belief system?
I’m not an Orthodox Jew like she is, but understanding her character was really, it was a challenging role for me, but I really enjoyed the challenge. You know she believes a lot more than her family does. She’s not trying to shy away from that, which I love about her, but she also feels like she wants to fit in more. Getting deeper into the religion than what I know, it was really cool for me to get deeper into that.

I was struck while watching the movie by the thought that in some ways Grace is the sort of the moral center of this family. Do you agree with that?
I honestly think that she is kind of the glue that holds the family, in a way. I don’t know if she’s the center of the family, but she’s going through a lot for a kid, trying to figure out who she is and what her parents think of her and how to deal with the struggle of not fitting in. I think that’s nice about her, that she knows what she believes in. Her family doesn’t always know what they believe in or what they want to believe. Even though she doesn’t always believe in their choices she’s always there to be helpful and be on their side for anything.

You worked with Zach Braff before on Oz the Great and Powerful. He was just a voice in that, did you actually meet him?
Yeah, we spent six months together in that little booth. We were both on set together the whole time. We weren’t just voices we were motion capture thingies, they kind of filmed us while we were doing it. So it was really cool and we spent six months in this little booth together and became the bestest of friends.

What’s it like working on a set with him?
Working with him on Oz, I worked with him as an actor, which was incredible because he’s such a good actor. But I’m a huge fan of Garden State so getting to work with him on Wish I Was Here was incredible, to get to see his directing style as well as being an actor. And he was the writer and a producer, he was wearing a bunch of hats at the same time and he handled it so well.

Did you guys try to keep it light on set since so much of the film is so heavy?
Definitely, I mean whenever it’s time for a heavy scene though we respect each other and give each other some space and time to get into the moment. But we just tried to have fun, I mean obviously it was so much fun because he’s my bestie so working with my bestie was the best again. And it was so awesome to get to work with new actors that I’ve never worked with before like Kate [Hudson] and Josh [Gad] and Mandy and Pierce [Gagnon], so that was awesome.

One of the next projects you’re working on is James Franco’s adaptation of The Sound and the Fury. What can you tell me about that?
Honestly James and I became friends on Oz as well. I met two of my besties on Oz. We just really hit it off, we had so much fun on Oz, all three of us. We were like three teenage girls at a slumber party, always giddy and gossiping together, it was so much fun—him, Zach, and I. So getting to work with him on The Sound and the Fury was so incredible and it was a pretty crazy experience too. I had my first kiss on that set! First kiss on camera and in real life! And James being James, he had to announce it to everybody.

That’s a lot of life experiences at one time.
It really is honestly. Nobody else knew, except for James, that it was my first kiss so I told him, I was like, “James, please don’t tell anybody, I really don’t want anybody to know.” Especially the guy that I was kissing [Pretty Little Liars‘ Keegan Allen] because I don’t want him to feel weird. Then James was like, “Oh I promise, I promise I won’t, okay I promise.” Then we get on-set blocking that scene and he’s like, “Hey everyone! Guess what?!” It all went downhill from there. “Joey King’s first kiss on camera and in real life is today, so everyone give her a round of applause and Keegan don’t screw it up!” I was so mad at him, I went up to him and was like, “Are you like insane? What are you doing?”

Before I let you go, I have to ask, did you keep any of your wigs from Wish I Was Here?
No, I wanted to. I was supposed to, I don’t know what happened though. There
was like three wigs and I was supposed to be able to keep one of them, I don’t know where they are though.