We visit the set of Wish Upon and talk to Joey King, Shannon Purser and more

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Be careful what you wish for is a theme not uncommon for the horror genre, and in WISH UPON it is extremely apropos. As you may have seen from the film’s effective trailers (posted below), the main character of Clare (Joey King) receives a fascinating “wishing box” that makes her every superficial desire a reality. But with severe consequences: for each wish granted, someone Clare knows meets a gruesome fate. The question is, can she stop herself from making wishes, or is it already too late for her… and her closest friends and family?

Earlier this year, in the dead of winter in Toronto, I visited the set of WISH UPON on the very last day of filming. It’s a slightly strange vibe, being on the set of a production’s last day. It’s a little melancholy, a little bitter sweet, a little more quiet than the usual run-run-run atmosphere you usually encounter. Perhaps that was fitting, as on this day Joey King would be finding a dead companion (of the four-legged variety) underneath her house. Yes, not even the family dog is safe from the dreaded wishing box.

Below you’ll find some choice factoids about the film, as well as a bevy of quotes from some of the key participants, including King, director John R. Leonetti (ANNABELLE) and co-star Shannon Purser (Stranger Things), who plays the best friend of King’s character.

Originally, WISH UPON was meant to be a creature feature:

Producer Sherryl Clark told me that the initial draft of WISH UPON had an actual monster in it. “There was a totally different vibe to it, where it was a creature feature… I love a good creature movie, elevated genre. [Writer Barbara Marshall] really wanted to do that, and when we got the first draft, we realized that was not the way to go. We needed to have the box be more magical and not have it manifest into anything physical. So really, this inanimate object is the antagonist of the film.”

Q: So it actually turned into a monster?

Clark: “Yeah, which our heroine had to fight off, with a sledgehammer! A big fight at the end, a totally different movie.”

WISH UPON has franchise potential:

Producer Clark again: “Very much so. There are lots of different ways you could go, you can do almost anything. There are different strands, when you see the movie you’ll see, that you can kind of create a franchise out of any character. Whoever gets the box.”

Not so fast, though. Joey King doesn’t necessarily think so:

“I don’t think I see Wish Upon being a franchise,” King said. “Never say never, but Wish Upon is such a stand-alone, crazy, awesome adventure. It’s such a special movie, with an amazing cast and scares, I don’t know if a second one could compare.”

Joey King on her the transformation her character goes through:

“When we first meet her, she’s so lovely, but she also has terrible misery on her shoulders from all this stuff she’s had to go through in her life. When she finds the wish box, she’s becomes happier. She gets really seduced by the box, and everything seems to be going great until she realizes the horrible truth of what is happening, that the consequence of each wish is taking the life of somebody. By the time she finds out, her craze is so aggressive, and she is so taken over by this box, that it’s way too late for her.”

King on the surprising decision to make Clare an unlikable character for part of the film:

“As much as you’re rooting for her, because you love her and she’s our hero, there’s a part of you that’s like, ‘You’re a disgusting human being for letting this happen. Which is really cool, because the audience is living through it in way where they go through not liking the main character for a bit of it, which is so unique. A lot of times that doesn’t happen. They go on this roller coaster with her, because ultimately she’s doing these things. It’s very heartbreaking to watch.”

Joey King on the film being more thriller than horror:

I like to call it more of a psychological thriller than a total horror. I think it’s very layered and it’s very emotional and you get really attached to the characters, more than you do in a typical horror movie. I would watch this movie, I just have to turn the lights on when I go home. And I probably will still have to do that after I see it… After I saw The Conjuring I couldn’t sleep for freaking six months!”

Shannon Purser on her character:

“I play June, one of her two best friends. And we’re kind of watching her making these wishes, and all these horrible things come to life. It’s pretty scary for us, because we’re watching our friend change in a lot of ways. June is kind of the voice of reason, very motherly. Wants to protect Clare and help her make good decisions, whereas her other friend Meredith, played by Sydney Park, is a joker, very sassy and sarcastic. I think the three of us have a really good dynamic.”

John R. Leonetti on receiving the script and choosing King for the lead:

“I got the script, it was brilliant – that’s when I got it the second time. It had be rewritten a little bit; it was really good before. And then our lovely producer Sherryl Clark kind of nicely pursued me for some weird reason, I’m so thankful that she did, and I read the next draft, and I was blown away. Then I read it again, and it put a curse on me, the script put a curse on me. Clare’s character is so, so layered, there’s so much going on in this young woman, this young girl, and I immediately thought of Joey first, period. That was it. The good news is when I mentioned her to the studio, they immediately went “Oh, yeah!” and her name had even already come up, of course. They were developing this for almost a year before I was attached, but the awesome thing was everyone was on board, and so it was Joey.”

Check out a gallery of exclusive pics from the film right HERE.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for JoBlo.com. He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.