Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Actress Meganne Young is eager for the world to see more of her character, Rachel, asserting herself in THE KISSING BOOTH 2. In this follow-up to Netflix’s smash hit film, Rachel’s frequently cast as the third wheel in Lee (Joel Courtney) and Elle’s (Joey King) plutonic relationship. She’s fed up with the situation and attempts to set some healthy boundaries so that her romance with Lee can continue to mature. However, this goes as well as to be expected when the success of a long-term friendship with a mandated set list of rules is at stake.
When you were making the first film, did you have any idea that it would be as huge as it was and that there was a chance for a sequel?
Absolutely no idea, at all. It’s so crazy to think that Beth wrote this book when she was 15, we made a film and had a great time and then all carried on with our lives. We had no idea it would turn into a sequel, or be able to revisit these characters and have an opportunity to tell the story further. And no clue how intensely supportive the fans would be.
Since there was time in between shooting these films, was there an ease or a challenge to slipping back into your character’s skin?
When I first knew I was gonna go back, it did at the time, feel like, “Oh. I have to get back into that mentality.” Two years felt like a long time. I’d moved my whole life to Canada, because I’m from South Africa. So it did feel a little bit distant. But as soon as we all were face to face with each other and the ensemble was back together, that energy just felt like we snapped back into our family dynamics. It’s kind of like when you go home to visit your parents and you suddenly become 15 again.
You take your performance to some pretty emotional and resonant places. How was getting into that headspace during the shoot?
It was pretty draining. When you’re having a good cry about something it’s physically exhausting. I remember one day Joel and I had to do several scenes that weren’t necessarily connected. There was lots of wardrobe changes and cleaning up makeup and then we’d cry and put the makeup back on and then change the costume and do another scene.
Having such a great partnership with Joel, as actors and as friends, we both have similar styles and would stay in the emotion. We’d be quiet and respectful of one another. And when you’re being so vulnerable with one another, you want to feel safe. Joel definitely made me feel safe, so I felt I was in it with him and we got through it. I feel like the result is really beautiful and honest.
It’s important that Rachel’s predicament isn’t shown as the stereotypical “two women fight over a guy’s attention” trope. I’m wondering if that’s something you and Joey maybe worked with Vince on to nail?
It starts with the writing and Vince would have helmed that. When we were playing that, it was so enjoyable for both of us to tell the story of two very strong female characters who both have valid reasons for feeling the way that they feel and how that dynamic plays out, but also how much they value each other. There’s a respect there. Often we see women pitted against each other, or somebody is trying to steal the guy. We’ve seen it. That’s been done. This was really refreshing to play.
There’s a pretty fabulous costume montage in this. Did you have a favorite? How was being in that marshmallow costume?
[laughs] I loved the costume changes. It was a bit stressful because we were limited on time that day. Joey and I were tucking behind a desk type thing and the wardrobe people were helping shield us while we changed. I love costumes and getting a chance to dress up. That marshmallow – I know Rachel wasn’t that into it, but I friggin loved it. I was so happy when I read it in the script. “Yes, I’m so into this.” It’s not the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, but it’s super fun to play with.
Did you have trouble sitting down in between takes?
Yeah. They had to sneak a little stool underneath and I’d sit there and pull my hands in, so it was just my little head on the outside. I couldn’t feed myself, or really drink anything. People had to help me. It was so much easy to stay in it rather than coming in and out since I had a headpiece on as well. I didn’t want to disrupt the beautiful work that my makeup artist had done. I just stayed in marshmallow mode the whole evening. So great.
Were you everyone’s tour guide since this filmed in your hometown?
It’s funny because it wasn’t really like that this time around. The others had been to Cape Town and had seen so many of the sights. It was more of the bonding of us going out and catching up as old friends. It felt less like they were visitors and more like locals. It definitely didn’t feel touristy this time around.
Since you’re now in one, did you have favorite teen romcoms growing up?
I mean, I still watch teen romcoms! [laughs] I watched THE HALF OF IT and really, really enjoyed that.
Will there be a third KISSING BOOTH? And would you like to return?
I feel like if the fans ask for it enough that Netflix might. I hope so, honestly. I would love to go back. I had the most incredible time shooting this one and love how the characters develop, so I am just as eager as where they could go to next and what that film could be. Unfortunately, I don’t know. If everyone wishes hard enough, it could happen.
Do you have ideas where you’d like to see Rachel wind up?
I feel like Rachel could take over the world, to be honest. I think she’s quiet and has an inner strength in her. Maybe running her own company, or maybe she’d own a restaurant. Sassy Rachel taking over the world!
THE KISSING BOOTH 2 begins streaming on Netflix on July 24.