Taylor Zakhar Perez Is Doing It All
The starlet talks Kissing Booth 3, his DMs and what the future holds
Taylor Zakhar Perez had his breakthrough moment starring as Marco Peña, the dreamy, muscular and talented “snack”—as Elle (Joey King) refers to him—in the second installment of Netflix’s high school rom-com, The Kissing Booth. Fans of the first film launched co-stars King and Jacob Elordi into superstardom, seemingly overnight.
Zakhar Perez got a similar treatment.
Amassing over 4 million followers within hours of the release of Kissing Booth 2, Zakhar Perez was overwhelmed by the reaction from viewers—and so was his Instagram. “I think my Instagram glitched, and my DMs still don’t work,” he explained over Zoom, laughing at the seeming absurdity of it. “I try to delete them, I’ve talked to Instagram like, ‘Hey, I think these DMs are breaking my phone. It just glitches all the time.’ And they’ve tried to do it, but they still come in hot.”
Unlike his character in the films, who chooses to go with the flow, Zakhar Perez is all about “leveling up.” Going into his audition for Kissing Booth 2 without having seen the first movie, the 29-year-old actor saw the franchise as an opportunity to boost his creative side and really see what he was capable of.
“It was so out of my world that going in, I kind of felt like I had nothing to lose. I just had another experience, another moment to act, another moment to maybe get a job,” he said. The low risk paid off with a high reward.
With the third and final instalment of the coming-of-age series available on Netflix on Aug. 11, Zakhar Perez expects that “fans are going to be surprised, excited, angry, emotional.” And while he couldn’t say too much, he admitted that there will definitely “be some cringeworthy moments.”
As fans eagerly await the conclusion to the beloved films – and the answers to their questions about their favorite love triangle – Zakhar Perez is looking forward. With two major movies now under his belt, he’s ready to make more audacious career moves and push himself as an artist.
“I’m inspired to lead more, inspired to throw myself in with talented people that are better than me and make me go, ‘Shit, I wanna be like that. How do you operate on that plane?’” he said of his experience on Kissing Booth and working alongside co-stars, King, and Joel Courtney. “I just wanna learn it all.”
His role in HBO Max’s upcoming female-driven, female-created show, Minx, allows him to do just that.
This “raunchy” series about an erotic magazine in the 1970s is a major departure from the quirky rom-com. With a lot more skin and a lot less teen angst, Zakhar Perez is trying to soak it all in working alongside comedy greats, including New Girl star Jake Johnson, one of the show’s leads.
In reality, Zakhar Perez not only wants to learn it all, but do it all. His own inspirations draw from a wide range of genres, including actors Will Smith and Jake Gyllenhaal. With “action-driven comedies” at the center of his dreams (à la Bad Boys) it’s hard for him to limit himself to just one thing.
“It’s easy to die, it’s hard to make people laugh,” he explained, quickly clarifying that he meant the phrase symbolically, comparing dramas and comedies.
But it’s not about getting an easy laugh. Growing up watching Saturday Night Live with his parents, what draws him in are “intelligently written comedies” that not only make you wheeze from laughter, but think.
“I love movies that have a lesson that you get a day after, or two days after,” he said. “And you kind of start seeing it in yourself, I think that’s always so powerful.”
For Zakhar Perez, lessons aren’t just for the movies. Using his own massive platform to educate others on important topics, especially during a time of performative “repost culture,” is something he pursues with purpose. Environmental issues in particular are a topic he has personally and deliberately delved into on his Instagram.
“I really like digging my heels into one social issue and being like, ‘This is what I know. This is what I’m learning,’” he said. “And maybe the people that follow me will have read everything along the way and understood it.”
And he’s all about practicing what he preaches.
“I’m trying to figure out composting. I’m trying to figure out a garden and chickens,” he laughed. “I’ll be that crazy chicken dad!”
However, he may need a chicken-sitter when he’s away on long shoots, which is what he plans to do; keeping an open mind to wherever his next move takes him.