A Barbie movie is coming down the line. This is a thing we’ve known for a while. And the people behind it, like Margot Robbie, don’t seem to intend for it to be a kid’s film. Still, how are they going to portray the iconic doll? What route are they taking with this story? Today, we have exclusively learned one more piece to this puzzle that tells us a lot more about what we can expect from Barbie. Thanks to one of our trusted and proven sources, we now know that Ryan Gosling is in talks to play Ken.
At this point, he isn’t signed on for the role, but knowing that they’re talking to him tells us a lot about what kind of Ken they see being in this movie. While our source didn’t share character details, the seasoned actor gives us a lot of hints. Ryan Gosling has a history of playing some odd, and often very interesting, characters. Ken isn’t going to just be a background accessory for Barbie if he’s being played by Ryan Gosling. This casting choice on behalf of the team behind the movie promises more of the unexpected, which is exactly what Margot Robbie has said about the project in the past.
What do we know so far about Barbie? We know that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach are co-writing the script. Greta Gerwig will direct. Margot Robbie is going to play Barbie, and her production company, LuckyChap, is producing. We know that Margot Robbie in December 2020 gave an interview with The Hollywood Reporter where she said, “Whatever you’re thinking, we’re going to give you something totally different — the thing you didn’t know you wanted.” Those are excellent words to hear, but honestly, left the door too wide open on what to expect.
Are they going to write Barbie as if she’s Cher from Clueless? (A blonde who loves shopping, but in the end, she has a heart.) Make her overly competent, since she has 150 jobs? Asking Ryan Gosling to take on the role of Ken gives us such a huge clue about where this whole movie is going. It’s incredibly exciting, even if negotiations don’t work out, because it says so much.
We have to assume that they’re asking Gosling based on his previous performances, and not just because he kind of looks like he’d be a good Ken doll, especially when his chin is tipped up, he’s in a suit, and his hair is combed back. So, what has Gosling done and what does that mean for this future role? Well, he’s been in musicals, but we’re going to assume that though Margot Robbie said to expect the unexpected, he won’t be singing and dancing. Instead, it seems likely this means that Ken may be a bit of a jerk that eventually turns lovable.
Ryan Gosling likes to play characters that are a bit quiet, often with some anxiety, or they’re cocky jerks. The Driver in Drive often kept his hands in the pockets of his scorpion jacket and stared down his nose at people. We saw him in Lars and the Real Girl, where he was quiet but full of anxiety. In The Nice Guys, he played Holland March, who was a bit more anxiety-prone and is a little twitchy, and a lot inept.
In La La Land he sang, but he was also a business guy in a suit in a haters-to lovers romance where he proved lovable. And, of course, he was famously in The Notebook, where he was sweet, self-assured, often quiet and calm, and all gruff and angry after his heart was broken. And then, there was the character in Crazy, Stupid, Love, where he was a jerk in a suit who slept with a lot of women and talked down to everyone around them until he fell in love with Emma Stone’s character and reformed.
As a doll, Ken has often been an accessory you buy to go along with Barbie. Ryan Gosling could probably fall more into the background if he wanted to, but that doesn’t seem to be something he signs on for. He’s a good supporting guy, but you always know he’s there. It seems likely he’ll be front and center with Margot Robbie, whether that’s as kind of a cocky jerk or as a partner in crime against the world. These also tend to be the kinds of supporting guys that Greta Gerwig writes.
We’ve seen that Greta Gerwig has written parts for her male characters that usually has them in these supporting roles where they have their own story lines that put them in the thick of things with their own desires, they are a little more quiet, but are also partners in crime. We’ve seen Timothée Chalamet do this twice in Lady Bird (where he was also a bit of a cocky jerk) and then in Little Women, where he was entirely lovable. Both of those roles could have been played by Ryan Gosling, if they’d been age appropriate, and hint at what we might be seeing for him as Ken.
Of note here is that Ryan Gosling has not been a choice for kids’ movies. It didn’t seem likely before that Barbie would be one, since the writers have many R-rated films in their past as does Margot Robbie. As for whether they’ll try to pull in with something PG-13, that remains to be seen. Ryan Gosling movies do tend to also be rated-R. Is that really something Mattel will let them do with the Barbie brand? On that, we’ll have to wait and see, but so far, the decision to talk to Ryan Gosling for the role falls in line with what they’ve promised: something unexpected. It’ll be interesting to watch more details about this project come out over the next year.