She doesn’t need a man: Joey King on turning damsel-in-distress trope on its head in ‘The Princess’

Joey King

The Princess is a “cool fight movie” that doesn’t break into a sudden romance with a man who would rescue the damsel from a fortified tower, says Hollywood star Joey King.
The American actor, who stars in and as “The Princess” in a never-seen-before avatar, said the team wanted to subtly drive home the message that the protagonist is an able warrior who wants to save her family and kingdom on her own.
“She doesn’t need a man, she wants to show she can rule this kingdom without one and that she’s to be taken seriously. It’s just like one of those things where you’re like, ‘Wow, I watched his whole cool action movie and I wasn’t taken away to like some side story of romance’.
“It was just a cool fight movie. I’m so proud of that element. Everything about that particular part of it was so planned out and we didn’t want to make it super duper obvious. But we wanted it to definitely be there that there was no romance element in this movie,” King told PTI in an interview over Zoom from Los Angeles.
A fantasy action film, “The Princess” takes the damsel-in-distress trope of fairytales and turns it on its head to give the audience a protagonist who wages a bloody battle aided by her mentor Lin (Veronica Ngo) against Julius, a cruel sociopath (Dominic Cooper) to whom she is betrothed, to protect her family and save her kingdom.
The story may be set in medieval times, but Vietnamese-American director Le-Van Kiet’s version is as modern as it gets with hat-tips to Disney princesses Rapunzel, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty as he treats the film with a “Die Hard”-like touch.
The journey of making the film was “absolutely incredible” because there are so many elements to it that make the film great, King said.
“There’s a message behind everything, which is not just women empowerment, but people empowerment. Believing in yourself when others don’t. Also it’s just a really fun movie to watch. There are so many amazing action sequences. There are so many fun character moments, so making this project was just as fun as watching it. I’m just so proud of how it turned out,” the 22-year-old added.
Best known for the Netflix rom-com film series “The Kissing Booth” and the crime drama series “The Act” from Hulu, “The Princess” marks the actor’s foray into hardcore action sequences where she did most of the fighting herself with the support from two stunt doubles.
Preparing for the film was an “exhausting” process which made it more fulfilling, she said.
“I had amazing people teaching me. I had two wonderful stunt doubles who cheered me on the whole time, who really helped prep me to be able to do as much as I did. Every part was challenging, but that made it that much more fulfilling and that much more fun. I would be bleeding and sweating and crying but also so happy at the end of the day because of what we pulled off.”
King, who featured in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Ramona and Beezus” as a child star, said she wanted to get her hands “dirty” doing the stunts on her own.
“I emerged as a new actor because of this. I felt it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was absolutely exhausting. I’ve never experienced anything like this because I was really passionate about making sure that I was doing most of the fighting. I didn’t want to use face replacement. I wanted to get my hands dirty, and I really wanted to learn how to fight,” she added.
The Emmy-nominated actor, whose character is only addressed as ‘The Princess’ in the eponymous film, said she is “honoured” to play this role and to be part of this movie.
“It’s really cool that when I see the trailer and the poster it says ‘The Princess’ and it’s my face and I’m the princess. I feel ‘The Princess’ is like a big metaphor for a lot of people who maybe underestimate themselves or who are underestimated by others. I hope people can see themselves in this character,” King said.
Also starring Olga Kurylenko, “The Princess” is scheduled to be released in India on Disney+ Hotstar soon. (PTI)