For Joey King, one word describes the extreme physicality of her brutally violent medieval movie “The Princess”: “Exhausting.”
This Princess is a prisoner in her castle tower, betrothed to a most evil man (Dominic Cooper) determined to eliminate her royal family and rule as king. She fights back with a fury, it’s safe to say, never seen in any other Disney-style princess picture.
At the start, the Princess — she has no other name — gouges a guard’s eye out as her dagger then pierces his brain. The body count mounts steadily as the Princess wields swords, daggers and axes, fights and kills non-stop.
“I haven’t felt this proud of something in so long,” King, 22, said in a virtual press conference. “This script was 95 pages with 92 of it spent fighting. I thought, ‘Can I do this? I have a bad hip?’ But I had never done an action film before and thought it was about time.”
Amazingly — but obviously — no doubles were ever used for this Princess. It’s all King.
“I wanted to do the stunts — and I just tried to be a good student. I was nervous because I had never done stunts like this before. But people telling you that they know you can do it makes you really believe that you can.
“With the training process you can’t just go, ‘I trained for two weeks. I’m ready.’ It takes time,” she explained. “It’s more about getting your form. Plus, you get hurt when you train. That helps when you go into the scenes. I got kicked in the head and hurt my back but you go full throttle. You have to learn how to respect these movements and not be scared.”
In a flashback, the Princess battles Veronica Ngo’s Lin deep in the forest. Ngo is a Vietnamese martial arts veteran who plays the Princess’s mentor.
“There is a sisterly, motherly intense chemistry between these two,” King said. Their forest-set battle was mighty.
“I don’t think we actually stopped fighting for 12 hours. All the cameras just moved around us. We wouldn’t cut, just kept fighting. I was wearing leather pants. Oh my god, I think I lost 5 pounds of water weight that day.
“It was the hardest and also the best day.”
This despite her accidentally hitting Ngo. “I hurt Veronica super hard with the sword and her finger was gushing blood.
“We stopped and then went right back into it. She was amazing about it. I still felt terrible, although in the next scene she just stepped it up.”
“The Princess” streams Friday on Hulu.