Greta Gerwig on ‘Barbie’s’ Deeper Messages & Making People Cry! (Exclusive)
“Barbie” is currently the number one movie in the world, and Greta Gerwig has made history by achieving the largest opening weekend ever for a film by a female director.
Gerwig sat down with “Extra’s” Melvin Robert prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike to talk about writing a movie based on the “complicated” icon and getting to its deep messages.
“Initially the thing that I was attracted by was Margot Robbie, who brought me into it because she had the rights with her company to ‘Barbie,’ and they were putting it up together at Warner Bros. and she asked me if I wanted to write it,” Greta said.
“And then my partner in life and also art, Noah Baumbach, said, well, he’d like to write it too, which he did. But it was such a head-scratcher: What is the story we’re gonna to tell here? Barbie’s been invented. She was invented in 1959 and she exists until now and she’s gone through so many different iterations. And my mom did not like Barbie.”
She continued, “And so, I had all of that front of mind, all the ways in which she is a complicated icon. And I think instead of rejecting all of that, we just sort of ran toward it. I always wanted it to be really funny and really beautiful and sort of dazzling. And I always had this dream that at the end you’d be like, ‘Why am I crying? What’s going on? How is this possible?’ I wanted it to be able to sneak up on you.”
Gerwig added that she wanted “Barbie” to explore the not-so-perfect aspects of human life and to convey the message that one’s power lies in embracing change.
“The journey that [Barbie] is on, it’s such a human thing when things start falling apart as they do. It’s like if you fight it, it’s not going to help you. You just sort of have to let go and be like, it’s going to fall apart and that’s okay. And because Barbie is this emblem of plastic perfection, I was like, what better journey to give her than one that gives her humanity and allows her to kind of fall apart?” Gerwig explained, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in how she approached the script.
“There’s a moment when Gloria, played by America [Ferrera] so beautifully says, ‘Well, that’s life, Barbie. It’s all change.’ And she says, ‘Well, that’s terrifying.’ And I was like, that’s the truest thing. And Margot is so overwhelmed when she says it and then she just has a childish meltdown because I think that’s what we do. But it was written in the pandemic,” she said.
“So, there were a lot of big questions floating around. And I think sometimes finding these things, as a director, I’m able to go more in depth in things that appear just like fluff more easily in a way because it’s not where anyone’s looking, so then you can kind of pluck it out.”
Greta also shared why Ryan Gosling was the only choice for the role of Ken.
“There was never another Ken,” she said. “It was a long process because we wrote it for him and then we waited and we moved it and there was a long road to yes, but there was really never another Ken. I’d never worked with him or met him, and I just knew it was him. But I still can’t believe he did it. Ryan Gosling played Ken for me!”
As for how she defines Kenergy, Gerwig said it’s something she and Ryan still discuss.
“I sent him a video the other day of something that I felt had extreme Kenergy and he was like, ‘That is Kenner in the wild.’ I think there’s self-actualized Kenergy, which is where Ken gets to at the end of the movie. Men in their sort of strength and confidence, supporting women with an open hand. There’s a feeling of, like, just that good Kenergy.”