Margot Robbie is a Barbie girl in a Barbie world — and that world sure does look Canadian, if the candy-coloured trailer for the upcoming summer blockbuster is anything to go by.
Robbie stars as a live-action version of the iconic Mattel doll in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which hits theatres on July 21. Barbie, suffering from an existential crisis, goes on a fabulous adventure after she’s expelled from Barbieland.
The star-studded ensemble includes Canadian actors Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu and Michael Cera, clad in their finest neon yellow rollerskates, baby blue lycra swimsuits and synthetic wigs.
Gosling plays the Ken to Robbie’s Barbie, a bleached blond, golden-skinned, delightfully mindless take on the classic boyfriend doll — who apparently meets his foe in Liu, here playing an alternate version of Ken.
WATCH | Barbie and Ken go on an adventure in the trailer for the 2023 film:
But it was Cera’s surprise casting that gripped the internet upon the trailer’s drop. The Superbad and Scott Pilgrim actor will appear as Allan, a real-life doll that existed in the 1960s, before Mattel discontinued it. Allan was marketed as Ken’s best friend who can also fit into his clothes.
Cera’s character isn’t the only one pulled deep from the Barbie vault — the children’s toy brand was launched in 1959, spawning a whole universe with many versions of the blond doll and her friends. Midge the pregnant doll, controversial at the time of its release, will be portrayed in the movie by Emerald Fennell.
All-new character posters for #Barbie, featuring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Michael Cera, and more. pic.twitter.com/vs2sE0RsbM
A long-gestating project
Barbie marks Gerwig’s fourth directorial effort after the critically acclaimed films Lady Bird in 2017 and 2019’s Little Women. She co-directed Nights and Weekends with Joe Swanberg in 2008.
An earlier teaser trailer that spoofed the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey — showing Robbie’s Barbie as the mysterious monolith that appears on prehistoric Earth — gave audiences a sense of what to expect from Gerwig’s Barbie: silly, satirical fun.
Will Ferrell, who also stars in the movie, said in a November interview that Barbie is the ultimate example of low art meeting high art.
“It’s a loving homage to the brand and, at the same time, couldn’t be more satirical — just an amazing comment on male patriarchy and women in society and why Barbie’s criticized and yet why every little girl still wants to play with Barbie,” he said.
Before Gerwig and Robbie signed onto the project, it had been in gestation since 2009, with actors like Anne Hathaway and Amy Schumer — who dropped out due to creative differences — in discussion for the lead role. Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody was also briefly attached, but didn’t produce a script.
Robbie had secured the rights to Barbie as actor-producer and brought it to Warner Bros. in 2018. The Australian actress reached out to see if Gerwig would be interested in writing the script.
“It felt like vertigo, starting to write it,” Gerwig said on a podcast with Dua Lipa (also a surprise cast member) last year while discussing the movie. “Like, where do you even begin, and what would be the story?”
While co-writing the movie with her partner, fellow filmmaker and frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach, Gerwig decided that she wanted to direct it, too.
Robbie and other producers brought the idea to Mattel, Gerwig recalled. “‘We don’t need to make any Barbie movie, we want to make this one.'”
“Anything where you’re like, ‘this could be a career-ender,’ you’re like, OK, I probably should do it,” Gerwig joked.