Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling on Playing ‘Barbie’ and Ken

But at the same time, you need to be able to point out all the things that people have found problematic about Barbie. Greta would say, run toward that, that’s going to be more interesting.

What were their biggest concerns?

ROBBIE There was a long laundry list of concerns. By the way, we had total freedom. They weren’t allowed to dictate the movie, but we didn’t want to make a movie that they weren’t going to be supportive of as well.

Some things are tiny, like her referring to herself as Stereotypical Barbie. The word “stereotypical” has negative connotations attached to it. They asked if we would consider a different word. Sure, I said, “We could call her Generic Barbie or Original Barbie or Blond Barbie.” But the word “stereotypical” is important because she is already putting parameters around herself that she is, later in the movie, going to step out of and break free. So that’s important for her journey. She needs to start there, referring to herself as Stereotypical Barbie, because she’s already putting herself down without realizing it.

Ryan, can you describe how you felt after you first read the script?

RYAN GOSLING Well, the title page said “Barbie and Ken,” and the “and Ken” was scratched out. It was obviously not what I expected. It’s so elegantly and brilliantly designed by Greta and Margot to be like a theme park or something, where you don’t really need a map. It’s already engineered so that you hit all the spots they want you to hit without you knowing it. I went on the ride and I’m still going on it. I don’t want to leave the park. They are kicking me out. “The park is closing, sir.” But I ordered churros and they are coming, I swear.

What do you two say about this mini-hubbub over Ken’s age and Ryan being too old to play him?


ROBBIE Barbie and Ken are technically in their 60s. So whatever. The first thing I thought when I heard that was, in “Grease,” they are supposed to be high schoolers, and not once in the 150 times that I’ve watched “Grease” over the years did I ever not enjoy “Grease” because I was like, “I need to go check what age they were.” They found the most charismatic, talented people to dazzle me. And that’s why I love that movie.

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