Once upon a time, Joey King and Jacob Elordi starred in a little movie called The Kissing Booth that came out on Netflix and was a massive hit. The high school romance story became one of the most re-watched movies on Netflix in 2018, as noted by Deadline. While The Kissing Booth didn’t get the best reviews — it only has Tomatometer score of 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — fans nevertheless fell in love with the movie.
Also falling in love were the film’s two stars, King and Elordi. Their budding romance only added to the fascination people had with the film. Unfortunately, their love story was short-lived. Just a few months after The Kissing Booth came out, fans began to speculate that the couple had broken up, a sad fact that was confirmed in 2019.
King and Elordi seemed like they were meant to be for a time, but were they? While Elordi and King have kept the details of their breakup pretty quiet, by looking closely at their relationship and their lives, we can try to see where things went wrong. Why did these two stars call it quits?
Joey King and Jacob Elordi started off as friends
Before Joey King and Jacob Elordi were one of the most gossiped about couples in Hollywood, they were just co-stars and friends. Far from falling in love at first sight, their relationship started off completely platonically. Sparks didn’t even fly at their first meeting on the set of The Kissing Booth — although King did think her leading man was cute. As she told Bello, though, Elordi was basically just a friend.
It wasn’t long before she started to develop feelings for him, even though their friendship started with them “talking about gross things with each other.” After a bit, King realized that she was crushing on Elordi, and the rest is history. As she pointed out, “meeting your boyfriend on set” is a unique experience “because you spend so much time together and become so close so fast.” After being around each other for 17 hours a day, it’s no wonder that the two fell for each other. “It was great,” said King of bonding with Elordi on set.
Joey King and Jacob Elordi's first kiss was pretty awkward
Could the fact that the beginning of Joey King and Jacob Elordi’s relationship was so unromantic have something to do with their later breakup? Not only did the two start off as friends, but they also had a totally awkward first kiss. Since they played love interests in The Kissing Booth, they knew they would have to kiss each other at some point. The director of the film decided to have them rehearse smooching in his office.
It was hardly the romantic moment that most people wish their first kiss with a significant other will be like. “I was like ‘Omg! I just met this guy. I have to make out with this person in an office,'” King told Seventeen.
Things sound like they got even more awkward from there. Both King and Elordi were super nervous and they “hit heads a couple of times” as they practiced the kiss. Not exactly the most swoon-worthy beginning to a romance.
Fans started worrying about a breakup when Jacob Elordi announced a social media break
Part of the reason that figuring out why Joey King and Jacob Elordi broke up is so hard is because the couple haven’t really addressed the breakup publicly. They didn’t even officially announce that they were broken up, but instead they left fans to speculate about what had happened between them, as noted by Us Weekly. Breakup rumors started swirling in the fall of 2018 when Elordi said that he would be taking a social media break. As reported by Just Jared Jr. in November of that year, Elordi made the announcement on his Instagram Story that he would “be signing off on this whole social media shabang while I work” and then deleted his account.
Taking a break from social media is a totally typical and healthy thing to do, yet the decision still caused rumors to circulate. Fans thought that the break might have actually been due to a breakup. King also added fuel to the fire a couple days after Elordi deleted his Instagram with a cryptic tweet. “Thank god I have my dog tho,” she wrote.
Joey King and Jacob Elordi tried to keep the breakup under wraps
Dating is hard. Dating when you’re in the spotlight is even harder. It’s understandable, then, that Joey King and Jacob Elordi wanted to keep their breakup to themselves for a while. It’s hard to know what really happened in the months following Elordi deleting his Instagram as people began to speculate that the couple had split up. Did they really call it quits then? Were they perhaps just taking a break? Is it possible that they were trying to stay out of the spotlight as they worked on their relationship? We may never know.
What we do know is that In February 2019, a few months after Elordi deleted his Instagram, Seventeen noted that he was back on the social media platform — although all his photos from before his social media break were gone. King also deleted most of her photos with Elordi from her own Instagram account.
That same month, Netflix announced that The Kissing Booth 2 was happening and that King and Elordi would reprise their roles. Only King and co-star Joel Courtney appeared in the announcement video, though — Elordi was notably absent, making the split seem even more certain.
There's an age gap between Joey King and Jacob Elordi
One of the things that may have contributed to the breakup between Joey King and Jacob Elordi is the fact that Elordi is two years older than King. Two years isn’t that big of an age gap — particularly in Hollywood — but those two years can be a big deal when you remember just how young they are. King was born on July 30, 1999, while Elordi was born on June 26, 1997. The Kissing Booth came out on May 11, 2018, when King was 18 and Elordi was just about to turn 21.
While Elordi told GQ Australia that he’s not too into the party scene, we can imagine that being a 21-year-old in Hollywood with a younger girlfriend might be a bummer when you can legally drink and she can’t. People also change a lot in their late teens and early 20s as they grow up and find their places in the world. And adolescent relationships are often short-lived, so it’s possible that King and Elordi just found themselves in different stages of their life or simply drifted apart.
Joey King and Jacob Elordi come from very different backgrounds
Relationships can be hard, but they can be even harder when two people come from totally different backgrounds. While Joey King and Jacob Elordi are both actors, they were also at very different points of their careers when they met while filming The Kissing Booth. King was a child star who had been acting for most of her life when she landed her role in the movie — her acting resume dates all the way back to 2006, when she had a guest spot on two episodes of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Elordi, on the other hand, was a relative unknown at the time — The Kissing Booth was only his second film role.
There’s also the fact that they’re from different countries. King was born and raised in America, while Elordi is from Australia. That meant that he wasn’t just adjusting to being a famous actor when his popularity exploded thanks to The Kissing Booth — he was also adjusting to living in the United States. That’s a lot to already be dealing with without the pressure of being in a high-profile relationship.
Jacob Elordi struggled with being thrust into the spotlight after starring in The Kissing Booth
After starring in The Kissing Booth, Jacob Elordi became famous. While playing Noah from The Kissing Booth wasn’t his first acting credit, it was one of the first roles on his resume and the one that turned him into a breakout star. Becoming known as Noah from The Kissing Booth totally changed Elordi’s life. As he told GQ Australia, for a while, he could barely go outside without being recognized. “It was super intense for a little while,” he said.
It’s possible that the pressure of being in the spotlight contributed to Elordi’s breakup with King, though we can’t know for sure. The actor is someone who doesn’t like being in the public eye, and even wishes it were possible “to create films in a bubble where nobody knows who the actor is.”
The fact that Elordi was dating his co-star from The Kissing Booth meant that his life was examined even more closely, so Joey King and Jacob Elordi’s breakup could have been his way of stepping out of the limelight a little bit.
Public scrutiny of her relationship with Jacob Elordi was hard on Joey King
Jacob Elordi wasn’t the only one who didn’t like getting so much attention after The Kissing Booth. While his then-girlfriend, Joey King, was more accustomed to the spotlight, she didn’t like how closely her relationship was followed by fans and by the press. King opened up about the media scrutiny in March 2019, finally confirming her breakup with Elordi. “All you can really do at that point is shut your phone off … because when you’re going through something and the world wants to go through it with you or [wants] to get every piece of detail from you about it, it’s really difficult,” she told Refinery29 of fans trying to figure out what was going on between her and Elordi following their hushed-up split.
While King was forthcoming about her relationship when she was with Elordi and regularly posted pictures of herself with her Kissing Booth co-star, it’s clear that she was uncomfortable with how invasive the public was. It’s possible that constant demands from the public to know what was going on in their relationship contributed to Joey King and Jacob Elordi’s breakup.
Did Jacob Elordi have feelings for another woman?
While we don’t know exactly when Jacob Elordi and Joey King broke up, speculation about the split began a few months after Elordi was announced as one of the cast members of the show Euphoria in June 2018 (per Variety). What could a casting announcement potentially have to do with a breakup? Nothing… until you consider that Zendaya was announced as the show’s lead at the same time.
This is significant when you look at what happened a few months later. Elordi and Zendaya were rumored to be pretty cozy after production on Euphoria began. In August 2019, an Instagram user posted a selfie in which Elordi and Zendaya are seen together in the background, seemingly on vacation. A few months later, though, Elordi was shutting down dating rumors, telling GQ Australia that Zendaya is “like my sister” — although he did add that the actress is “an amazing creative” and “super dope to work with.”
Elordi and Zendaya haven’t confirmed any sort of relationship as of this writing, but if they are or ever were involved, it’s possible that sparks between the two started flying when Elordi was still with King, potentially leading to Joey King and Jacob Elordi’s breakup.
Joey King was busy with her career after starring in The Kissing Booth with Jacob Elordi
Breakups happen for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes a couple drifts apart. Sometimes they still care deeply for each other, but are at different points in their lives. Sometimes it’s all about timing. After starring together in The Kissing Booth, both Joey King and Jacob Elordi got pretty busy with work, so it’s possible that they just didn’t have time to see each other.
King’s resume burst with credits following her role as Elle in The Kissing Booth. After starring in the Netflix film, she went on to a number of other roles including as Gypsy Rose Blanchard in the series The Act. Other post-Kissing Booth parts include an arc on Life in Pieces and roles in the films Zeroville and Camp.
Her career was not the only major demand on her time. King also turned into a budding activist after starring in The Kissing Booth, her political awareness growing with her age. In 2019, the actress told Teen Vogue that she wants to use her large platform to advocate for causes and “say something that means something to me.”
Jacob Elordi was busy working on Euphoria when he and Joey King are thought to have broken up
Jacob Elordi’s career following The Kissing Booth was a bit rocky. As he told GQ Australia, his money from the film quickly ran out and he found himself practically homeless with just a couple of weeks left on his U.S. visa and no job prospects. Thankfully, Elordi’s financial woes didn’t last for long. After he was cast on Euphoria, things began to turn around for the actor, and he abandoned plans to move back to Australia.
It was a time of a lot of transition and stress for Elordi, and it’s possible that all of the pressure may have contributed to the deterioration of his relationship with King.
It’s also possible that Joey King and Jacob Elordi’s relationship fell apart because he simply didn’t have time to devote himself to the relationship and his new role on Euphoria. Speculation about Elordi and King’s breakup began after he announced he was taking a social media break to focus on work, after all. As noted by Just Jared Jr., this happened right before he started filming on Euphoria. If he didn’t have time for social media, it’s could be that Elordi didn’t have time for a serious relationship.
Joey King has no regrets about her relationship with Jacob Elordi
While it seems that Joey King and Jacob Elordi weren’t meant to be, their parting appears to have been pretty amicable. At least, there seem to be no hard feelings there, although it doesn’t look like King and Elordi are exactly friends. Still, King has implied that she treasures her memories with her ex-boyfriend and that things all worked out for the best.
When the two reunited on the set of The Kissing Booth 2, King said on the podcast Mood with Lauren Elizabeth (via Teen Vogue) that working with Elordi again was “crazy” and “wild” but ultimately “a really beautiful time” in which she “learned a lot” and “grew” both as an actor and as a person. It’s kind of cryptic, and King may have just been being nice, but it sounds like she ultimately came away with something from her relationship with Elordi. At least she can chalk it all up to a learning experience.
Joey King said working with ex Jacob Elordi on The Kissing Booth 2 was a 'sacrifice'
Even though things seem to be good enough between Joey King and Jacob Elordi that they agreed to work together on The Kissing Booth 2, it was not exactly an opportunity that King jumped on. On the podcast Mood with Lauren Elizabeth (via Teen Vogue), King said that she loves that The Kissing Booth resonated with fans and that it resonated with herself as well, which is why she was okay “making the sacrifice” to revisit her relationship with her ex in the sequel.
A sacrifice? Ouch. It definitely sounds like there were still some painful emotions that King had to work through when she and Elordi reunited for the film. King didn’t elaborate too much and said she wasn’t “outwardly addressing” the situation, but it definitely seems like there was some awkwardness on the set of The Kissing Booth 2. Still, though, “making those sacrifices was totally worth it,” said the actress.
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