Margot Robbie has some tiny, plastic shoes to fill, but with director Greta Gerwig paving her dream-house driveway, Barbie seems less likely to stumble in those stilettos. Variety confirmed on July 9, 2021 that Little Women director Gerwig will helm the live-action Barbie film, with Robbie attached as Mattel’s size-zero superstar. Under Gerwig’s stewardship, the blonde icon who’s juggled careers as a president, doctor, teacher, fashion designer, and Olympic athlete will be forced to confront her feminist critics.
Revealed Robbie in a cover story with British Vogue, “Right, it comes with a lot of baggage! And a lot of nostalgic connections. But with that come a lot of exciting ways to attack it.” Here’s what we know about the doll drama so far.
When will the film release?
Barbie hits theaters on July 21, 2023. Warner Bros. announced the news with a first look at Robbie in character, covered in pink.
The Warner Bros. project was first announced in 2019, but numerous other projects—and, not to mention, a pandemic—have kept Gerwig and Robbie busy in the interim. Variety confirms that Gerwig and co-writer Noah Baumbach would finalize the script after completing work on the Baumbach-directed 2022 film White Noise.
Who’s playing Ken?
It was announced on October 22, 2021, that Ryan Gosling was in final negotiations for the role of Ken, the well-known romantic interest of Barbie and a wonderful choice for a leading man to star opposite Robbie. Apparently, Gosling initially rejected the role, saying he was too busy, but the delay in production lined it up with a free spot in his calendar. Gosling recently wrapped on the Russo brothers’ Netflix film The Gray Man, acting alongside Chris Evans.
On June 15, 2022, Warner Bros. Pictures released a jaw-dropping first-look image of Gosling in the infamous role—with bleached blonde hair, a denim vest and a spray tan, no less.
Who else is in the cast?
Barbie is shaping up to be a massive star-studded production. Will Ferrell is said to be playing the CEO of a toy company. Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon, Shang-Chi‘s Simu Liu, and America Ferrera will also star in undisclosed roles. Together, they join Issa Rae (Insecure), Michael Cera (Superbad), Marisa Abela (Industry), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Rhea Perlman (Cheers), Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education), Emerald Fennell (The Crown, Promising Young Woman director), Sharon Rooney (Dumbo), Scott Evans (One Life to Live, Grace and Frankie), Ana Cruz Kayne (Painkiller), Connor Swindells (Sex Education), Ritu Arya (Red Notice, The Umbrella Academy), Jamie Demetriou (Fleabag, The Afterparty), Robbie doppelgänger Emma Mackey (Sex Education), Alexandra Shipp (Tick, Tick…Boom!), Hari Nef (Assassination Nation, Transparent), and Ariana Greenblatt (young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War).
Most of the roles remain secret as plot details are still tightly under wraps.
What will the story be about?
Gerwig will pen the script with Marriage Story‘s Baumbach, which means this won’t be your typical toy-to-television adaptation.
“People generally hear ‘Barbie’ and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’ and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I don’t…,” Robbie told British Vogue.
While we wait for more news, might we suggest a rewatch of the ground-breaking 2004 film Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper?
Is production for Barbie over?
On Saturday, July 16, a few members of the Barbie cast shared a celebratory photo to commemorate wrapping on the film. Both actresses Hari Nef and Sharon Rooney posted the picture to Instagram. The image included Gerwig as well as Robbie and America Ferrera from their last day on set, all yelling at the camera.
Also in the pic were Alexandra Shipp and Ana Cruz Kayne, plus a few other members of the studio ensemble.
“Barbie, a true gift,” Rooney wrote in the caption.
What has Greta Gerwig said about the experience?
Gerwig co-wrote the screenplay as well as directing. In an appearance on Dua Lipa’s At Your Service podcast post-production, Gerwig said it was actually a nerve-wracking choice to take on the Barbie project.
“It was terrifying. I think there’s something about starting from that place where it’s like, ‘Well, anything is possible!’” she said. “It felt like vertigo starting to write it. Like, where do you even begin? What would be the story?”
She continued, “I think it was that feeling I had that it would be really interesting terror. Usually, that’s where the best stuff is. When you’re like, ‘I am terrified of that.’ Anything where you’re like, ‘This could be a career-ender,’ then you’re like, ‘OK, I probably should do it.’”
The experience ended up being great, even working with the executives at Mattel, who have creative control over the doll fashion line.
“They have given us such trust and such freedom, and I think that is incredibly rare. Whatever we wanted to be, they did not try to micromanage it. I was very much supported in what I wanted to do,” Gerwig explained. “I usually know on a gut level whether something feels right.”
Is there a trailer?
Finally, yes. Warner Bros. shared the first teaser for Barbie on Dec. 16, featuring Robbie’s arrival as the iconic doll. It’s also a big visual and musical reference to the opening scenes of 2001 A Space Odyssey. “Since the beginning of time, since the first little girl ever existed, there have been…dolls. But the dolls were always and forever baby dolls. Until…” a voiceover says in the clip.
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The footage ends with some blink-and-you’ll-miss it glimpses of the over-the-top film, including cast members Ryan Gosling, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, Issa Rae, and Simu Liu.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion.