Making his way down the candy-pink carpet ahead of Barbie‘s Toronto premiere, Ryan Gosling reflected on his younger self — the hip-hop-dancing, silky-shirt-sporting, hammerpants-wearing Canadian kid whose energy permeates the actor’s latest performance, if those film trailers are any indication.
“That kid had his hustle and he got me here and I owe him everything. But I was gonna let him retire, take a load off,” Gosling joked to CBC’s Eli Glasner.
“I thought I had to pull him out of retirement one more time for one last heist, and we made this film together.”
The film in question stars Margot Robbie and Gosling as the famous doll couple Barbie and Ken, directed by Lady Bird and Little Women filmmaker Greta Gerwig. Gerwig co-wrote the script with her partner, filmmaker Noah Baumbach, while Robbie is a producer.
While little is known about the Mattel-produced comedy’s plot — Barbie is banished from Barbieland and sets out to discover the real world — its marketing team has invested heavily in a wide-ranging publicity campaign before its July 21 release.
Barbie was a special experience, Gosling says
“I think I’ve seen a lot of movies at this point,” Gosling said, adding very few of them made for an unforgettable experience. He was careful to avoid spoiling the star-studded movie, which features the likes of Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, Issa Rae, Dua Lipa and Kate McKinnon.
“Sometimes there’s moments, there’s scenes, there’s performances, there’s details, but where the whole experience of seeing the movie is unforgettable … [Barbie] is definitely one of them,” Gosling said.
Barbie is Gosling’s second film since 2018, when the actor took a break from Hollywood. Signing on to play a version of Ken, who is verging on an existential crisis, he got to leave his comfort zone. It was “an opportunity to shave my legs, dye my hair, bleach it and just wear neon roller skates, learn how to rollerblade,” he joked.
As for Gerwig, who received two Oscar nods in 2018 and another in 2020, the London, Ont.,-born actor believes “she’s at the height of her powers. It’s just exciting for an audience, I think, because they’re in for a great ride.”
“Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, they’re just incredible leaders and artists and it was such a joy to work with them.”
‘The best script I’ve ever read,’ says Simu Liu
Simu Liu, the film’s other Canadian star, plays a different version of Ken to rival Gosling’s character. “The Kenergy is strong,” he told Glasner, decked out in a pastel green blazer and pink shirt.
The actor said a version of Ken from Mississauga, Ont., where Liu was was raised, would likely come with a gift certificate to Eastside Mario’s, a bag of popcorn from Kernels, a Jamaican patty and an ice cream cone from Laura Secord.
“We start in a place where Kens are not necessarily an empowered bunch of people,” he said. The Kens don’t have jobs; all they do is “beach” — a verb in Barbieland — and “get really competitive with each other about really dumb things.”
“I think that’s the kind of journey that my Ken and all Kens in this movie go on, is like trying to find some sort of existential purpose in the madness that is just beach. Like, what is beach? Is there more to life than just beach?”
Liu, who starred in Kim’s Convenience and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings before landing the Barbie role, said it was hard to quantify just how much Gerwig brought to the table.
“I can say that the script — before any of the sets were built, before this movie ever was on its feet — the script was the best script I’ve ever read,” he said.
“It was so amazing and spectacular and heartbreaking and poignant all at the same time.”