USA-UK 2023, 110 mins
Director: Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig on ‘Barbie’

On making Barbie…

Barbie has so much recognition, so much love, and of course a 60-plus-year history, which was exciting for me. As a writer and a director, I’m always looking for a fun challenge. As with Little Women, Barbie is a property we all know, but to me she felt like a character with a story to tell, one that I could find a new, unexpected way into, honouring her legacy while making her world feel fresh and alive and modern.

On understanding Barbie…

The idea of the multiplicity of the Barbies and then the Kens really did come out of my first meeting with Mattel, when I started talking about different characters and they said, ‘No, we don’t have different characters. All of these women are Barbie.’ And I replied that if all of these women are Barbie then Barbie is all of these women, and they said, ‘Yes.’

On Barbie’s past…

I grew up with Barbie, but I was always waiting for our neighbours’ children to grow tired of theirs so they would give me the hand-me-down Barbies. That was the big thing I was always looking forward to. I have a very vivid, visceral memory of Barbie and what it meant.

On Margot Robbie as a producer…

Barbie came to me through Margot Robbie. Margot was the one who had gotten the rights, had brought it to Warner Bros., had sort of spearheaded this whole project, and we had met, and I was a big fan of hers as an actress. But then when we talked, I realised what an incredible producer she was. She was super smart and extremely involved and really interesting.

On Margot Robbie as Barbie…

Margot is our Stereotypical Barbie, as she says in the film, ‘I’m the Barbie everyone thinks of when you think of Barbie.’ And when you think of the most beautiful, cheerful, friendly, blonde lady you’ve ever seen, that’s Margot. But the thing I wanted to do most of all was to allow her to be outrageously funny. She’s the person you’re going to go on a real journey with in the movie and because she’s always able to make things grounded, relatable, and very emotional even when it’s ridiculously heightened and funny, you never feel like you lose the humanity.

On Ryan Gosling…

We wrote this part specifically for Ryan Gosling. Even though he’s so wonderful in dramatic roles, I knew he was really funny as I had watched all his Saturday Night Live appearances. There was no plan B. It was always Ryan.

On pink…

First and foremost, I wanted Barbie Land to feel like a happy place – where Barbie lives in our childhood imaginations. One of the first days I met with [production designer] Sarah Greenwood and the art team, we looked at all the different shades of pink to determine how they would interact. As a little girl, I liked the brightest pinks, but Barbie Land would incorporate the full spectrum of the colour, so it was important to figure out where those bright pinks would live alongside our palest, pastel pink, and of course every tone of pink in between.

On defying gravity…

There’s no place for Newton’s laws in Barbie Land. There is no wind, there is no sun, no gravity and no water, but as filmmakers we do live in a world of physics, so when dealing with the reality of Barbie Land, there were the rules of Barbie Land and then there were the rules we’ve set up for the filmmaking, and then how those two things interacted. I’m in love with 1950s soundstage musicals, those wonderfully artificial spaces, and because Barbie was invented in 1959, it felt like we could ground everything in that look and not be so beholden to it. I want everyone to feel like they can reach up to the screen and touch everything, because that’s the great thing about dolls and toys. I remember standing in a Toys ‘R Us toy store, looking at Barbies and their accessories with the plastic over them, and wanting to take everything apart and touch everything!

On the soundtrack and score…

There’s a lot of music in the movie – that was always super important to me. Barbie has a level of optimism that influenced us when we were writing the script, a sort of sincerity mixed with joyfulness meets a ‘doesn’t everybody just want to dance?’ attitude. Mark [Ronson] really threaded that through the movie with the amazing artists who came in to contribute songs, like Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, Karol G… so many! It was such a treat to work with all these artists. And Mark and his partner, Andrew Wyatt, wrote an anthem of sorts for Ken, which Ryan sings, and it’s epic. We have a ballad that made me cry when I heard it. Mark and Andrew also wrote the score, and they wove that melody through several scenes.

Production notes

Directed by: Greta Gerwig
©: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Production Companies: Heyday Films, LuckyChap Entertainment, NB/GG Pictures, Mattel
Presented by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Executive Producers: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, Ynon Kreiz, Richard Dickson, Michael Sharp, Josey McNamara, Courtenay Valenti, Toby Emmerich, Cate Adams
Produced by: David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Robbie Brenner
Co-producer: Christine Crais
Associate Producer: Jennifer Lane
Unit Production Managers: Michael Sharp, Beth Timbrell
Production Supervisor: Craig Jamieson
Production Co-ordinator: Emma Hazell
Production Accountant: James Broom
Location Manager (LA Unit): Robin Citrin
Post-production Supervisor: Jennifer Lane
2nd Unit Director: John Sorapure
2nd Unit Director (Los Angeles): George Cottle
1st Assistant Director: Josh Robertson
2nd Assistant Director: David Keadell
Script Supervisor: Jo Beckett
Casting by: Allison Jones, Lucy Bevan
Written by: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Based on ‘Barbie’ by: Mattel
Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto
2nd Unit Director of Photography: John Sorapure
Director of Photography (LA – 2nd Unit): Ian Fox
A Camera/Steadicam Operator: Chris Bain
B Camera Operator: Simon Finney
Visual Effects Supervisor: Glenn Pratt
Visual Effects Producer: Nick King
Visual Effects by: FrameStore, UPP, Fuse FX, Chicken Bone FX
Special Effects Supervisor: Mark Holt
Edited by: Nick Houy
Production Designer: Sarah Greenwood
Supervising Art Director: Dean Clegg
Art Directors: Mark Swain, Dave Doran, Gregory Fangeaux, Jo Finkel, Joe Howard, Emma MacDevitt, Katrina Mackay, Hugh McClelland, Alex Walker
Set Designers: Milly Hanson, Jack Leather, Heather Rackstraw, Dan Warren
Visual Researcher: Phil Clark
Costume Designer: Jacqueline Durran
Costume Concept Artist: Richard Merritt
Costume Supervisor: Charlotte Finlay
Make-up & Hair Designer: Ivana Primorac
Make-up & Hair Supervisor: Robb Crafer
Music by: Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt
Music Supervisor: George Drakoulias
Choreographer: Jennifer White
Sound Designers: Ai-Ling Lee, Dan Kenyon, Tobias Poppe, Nia Hansen
Production Sound Mixer: Nina Rice
Re-recording Mixers: Kevin O’Connell, Ai-Ling Lee
Supervising Sound Editors: Ai-Ling Lee, Dan Kenyon
Stunt Co-ordinator: Roy Taylor
Filmed at: Leavesden Warner Bros. Studios

Margot Robbie (Barbie)
Ryan Gosling (Ken)
America Ferrera (Gloria)
Kate McKinnon (Barbie doing splits)
Issa Rae (Barbie president)
Rhea Perlman (Ruth)
Will Ferrell (Mattel CEO)
Michael Cera (Allan)
Ariana Greenblatt (Sasha, Gloria’s daughter)
Ana Cruz Kayne (Barbie)
Emma Mackey (Barbie)
Hari Nef (Barbie)
Alexandra Shipp (Barbie)
Kingsley Ben-Adir (Ken)
Simu Liu (Ken who can backflip)
Ncuti Gatwa (Ken)
Scott Evans (Ken)
John Demetriou (Mattel executive 1)
Connor Swindells (Aaron Dinkins, Mattel intern)
Sharon Rooney (Barbie)
Nicola Coughlan (Barbie)
Ritu Arya (Barbie)
Dua Lipa (Barbie)
Helen Mirren (narrator)
Emerald Fennell (Midge)
John Cena (Ken)
Andrew Leung (Mattel executive 2)
Will Merrick (young Mattel employee)
Zheng Xi Yong (an even younger Mattel employee)
Asim Chaudhry (warehouse employee)
Ray Fearon (Dan at the FBI)
Erica Ford (Skipper)
Hannah Khalique-Brown (growing up Skipper)
Mettenarrative (Barbie video girl)
Marisa Abela (Teen Talk Barbie)
Lucy Boynton (Proust Barbie)
Rob Brydon (sugar daddy Ken)
Tom Stourton (earring magic Ken)
Chris Taylor (Ken emcee)
David Mumeni (footrub Ken)
Olivia Brody, Isla Ashworth, Eire Farrell, Daisy Duczmal (2001 girls)
Genvieve Toussaint (young Sasha)
Isabella Nightingale-Mercado (girl making weird Barbie)
Manuela Mora, Aida Sexton (girls with Barbie)
Millie-Rose Crossley, Anvita Nehru, Kayla-Mai Alvares (advertisement girls)
Luke Mullen, Patrick Luwis (guys at the beach)
Mac Brandt, Paul Jurewicz, Oraldo Austin, Benjamin Arthur (construction workers)
Carlos Jacott, Adam Ray (policemen)
George Basil (boutique owner)
Ptolemy Slocum (corporate man)
Deb Hiett (doctor)
James Leon (life-guard)
Oliver Vaquer, Tony Noto, Christopher T. Wood (businessmen)
Ann Roth (the woman on the bench)
Annie Mumolo (anxiety mom)
Elise Gallup (warning girl)
McKenna Roberts, Brylee Hsu, Sasha Milstein (junior high friends)
Lauren Holt (time mom)
Sterling Jones (Mattel agent)
Ryan Piers Williams (el esposo de Gloria)
Jamaal Lewis (muscle beach guy)
Kathryn Akin (doctor receptionist)
Grace Jabbari, Ira Mandela Siobhan, Lisa Spencer, Naomi Weijand, Tom Clark (dancers)

USA-UK 2023©
110 mins

A Warner Bros. release


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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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