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Joey King on Starring Opposite Brad Pitt as Hard-Charging Assassins in ‘Bullet Train’

A prince in one film, a princess in another? With a résumé as long as a Victorian novel, child star turned action-film ass kicker Joey King is ready for any challenge. We spoke to the actress to get to know her better. But first, the basics.

  • Age: 22.
  • Hometown: Los Angeles.
  • Sword-fighting tip: Keep your fricking shoulders back.
  • Dog’s name: Jesse James. I like cats but I vibe with dogs a little more.
  • Tattoo count: Six. I got my first when I was 18. After that it was off to the races.
  • Favorite comedy from childhood: Major Payne. The humor is so outrageous, inappropriate and ridiculous.
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Men’s Journal: This summer you play Prince, an assassin who wields a TT-33 pistol while traveling 150+ mph with fellow killer Brad Pitt. What else makes Bullet Train special?

Joey King: Bullet Train is a truly larger-than life film that I can’t believe I got to be a part of. I’ve been acting for a long time, but I had a zoom-out Hollywood moment of “Wow, this is insane. I’m in an action film directed by David Leitch [John Wick, Deadpool 2] with Brad Pitt.” Brad is absolutely hysterical in this movie. And I love my character, Prince. She’s so badass and so crazy. I learned a lot about guns and just being a super cool assassin lady. I’ve always had a bit of action star in my bones.

A Life cereal commercial at 4 was your first role. After 18 years in front of the camera, were you able to school Pitt?

I taught him everything he knows. I traveled back in time and just taught him about acting.

Pitt return the favor?

I learned a lot from Brad, some incredible personal life lessons. He’s been in the public eye for so long. It’s such a weird thing to balance. Only a niche group knows exactly what it feels like. Brad was so gracious in helping someone like me.

How tough was it brandishing a double-edged medieval sword for your title role in 20th Century Studios’ The Princess?

The Princess is the hardest job I’ve ever done physically. I did months and months of training. I fell in love with sword fighting. I’m left-handed and I became quite good with a sword with my right hand. My stunt doubles trained me hard. These women helped me become the best fighter I could be.

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You now strut through life with more physical confidence?

I don’t think I could necessarily kick some ass. But I do feel like I could kind [have] hurt someone. I definitely feel a little more comfortable walking alone now.

You’ve shaved your head three times, including for your Emmy-nominated role as Gypsy Rose in The Act. Any tips to the guys for going bald?

There’s a reason I keep shaving my head: It’s the best feeling in the world! Everyone should doit at least once. When your head’s shaved, you don’t have to do anything to your hair—obviously—and you look cool.

But when your hair’s growing out?

For a woman, there’s a cute pixie-cut phase. After that, your hair becomes a straight-up disaster for about a year. The hair on the back of your head looks longer than the front, so you’ve got this mullet going on. At that point, you have to just stay inside.

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As someone who’s spent a big part of their life on movie sets, how do you pass the time between setups?

That changes with every single job. When I enjoy the people I work with, I’ll spend time in between takes getting to know more about my cast and crew mates. One of my good friends, Brianne Tju, and I took up knitting together on a movie we shot together.

Did you and Brad work on your garter stitches together?

I hadn’t started knitting yet on Bullet Train. But I hope if Brad and I ever work together again, he’d be open to the idea of having knitting nights every Tuesday. It’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility.

Bullet Train hits theaters Aug, 5; catch the trailer here.

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