When Netflix's The Kissing Booth came out in 2018, fans' biggest concern was what would happen if you hooked up with your BFF's hot older sibling at the school carnival. But as high school draws to a close for these characters, things are about to get more serious. When The Kissing Booth 2 arrives July 24, Joel Courtney hints there will be growing pains and big changes.
The Kissing Booth centers around Elle Evans (Joey King), her bestie Lee Flynn (Courtney), and Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi) — aka Lee's brother and Elle's new BF. At the end of the first film, fans saw Elle and Noah agreeing to give long distance a try as Noah left to attend Harvard, and Lee getting more serious with his girlfriend Rachel (Meganne Young). The sequel picks up about a month after Noah heads off to college, with Lee and Elle starting their senior year of high school and thinking about their own post-grad plans.
While jumping back into the role of Lee for The Kissing Booth 2 was exciting, Courtney admits he definitely felt the pressure to please fans who loved the first movie so much. "I've never been in the position where I've gotten to pick a role back up. I've never done like, a Season 1 of a TV show and then gone back for Season 2," he tells Elite Daily. "I remember actually being a little nervous to fail because there’s so many fans that love this character and this friendship."
After reconnecting with King for filming, however, Courtney's fears quickly evaporated. "Day 1 on the set with Joey for The Kissing Booth 2 [was] like, 'Oh yeah, we’re back,'" he says. "It was like putting on your favorite jacket. It just like, slips right on and you know how to wear it."
Courtney's character won't have it so easy in the movie, though. "Lee is in for a tough year ... There’s a lot of growth coming Lee’s way and there’s a lot of hard times that teach good lessons to a young man at that age," he says.
Though Courtney doesn't give too much away about what's in store for Lee, it sounds like his story will largely focus on his love life. "It's a juggling act, you know? You have a best friend who happens to be a girl, and you have a girlfriend and, like... Who do you spend time with? How does that relationship work out?" he ponders. Further hinting Lee and Rachel are going to have tough times ahead, he added: "[Meganne Young and I] had some of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever filmed."
It's not just Lee who's facing hard choices in The Kissing Booth 2; every character will have their own struggles. "[It's] senior year and life is kind of a stepping-off point in terms of like, 'What do we do from here?' These characters have huge decisions to make," Courtney explains. "You're 18 and everything is entangled with everything else in your life."
One character viewers are particularly eager to see evolve is Lee's brother, Noah. The older Flynn received some criticism after the first movie from fans — and from Elordi himself — for being controlling toward Elle. According to Courtney, his on-screen sibling will be doing some growing up in the sequel. "One of my favorite things about The Kissing Booth 2 is how every character grows and has their own personal story," Courtney says. "Noah goes through a really hardening experience. He's a small fish in a big pond at college now."
As for whether the characters of The Kissing Booth will continue growing up in a third movie, Courtney has his fingers crossed right there with fans. "The second movie came from our first by popular demand. We’ll see if there’s like, a petition, and I will be the first one to sign it for a third movie," he says.
One theory Courtney is a lot less on board for? An Elle and Lee romance. "Lee is one of those ride-or-die kind of guys and Elle is his person," Courtney says. "[They] have a relationship that’s deeper than physical ... It’s non-romantic but it’s soulmates. There’s like, no way that I see them crossing those lines. It’s so clear and just so understood on each side."
While Lee and Elle might not wind up as star-crossed lovers, they're still in for a wild ride, and will be spending the sequel "enjoying the last little bit of life ... before it radically changes." Courtney's advice to fans watching as this all unfolds is simple: "Hold on tight."
The Kissing Booth 2 premieres on Netflix on July 24.