Margot Robbie Finally Opened Up About 'Barbie' at Length
The majority of the details behind this summer's highly-anticipated Barbie movie remain a secret, but Margot Robbie has opened up to Vogue a bit about making the film. The interview marks her most extended interview on the project.
Major revelations include that she actually never planned to play the role herself despite looking like the iconic doll. “It wasn’t that I ever wanted to play Barbie, or dreamt of being Barbie, or anything like that,” she said. “This is going to sound stupid, but I really didn’t even think about playing Barbie until years into developing the project.”
Here are the key things she and others involved in Barbie revealed about the film in the interview.
Robbie and her production company LuckyChap sought rights to the Barbie IP to develop a film that would acknowledge those who hate the toy, too.
“We of course would want to honor the 60-year legacy that this brand has,” Robbie had told Mattel in her pitch. “But we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of people who aren’t fans of Barbie. And in fact, aren’t just indifferent to Barbie. They actively hate Barbie. And have a real issue with Barbie. We need to find a way to acknowledge that.”
Robbie and LuckyChap were able to structure their deal with Warner Bros and Mattel so the film's screenwriters Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach had full creative freedom.
Robbie and her husband Tom Ackerley, who produce together for LuckyChap, read the finished script at the same time. A joke on page one signaled to them this was going to be far from the typical Barbie movie. (The joke didn't make the final cut, but final version is still in line with the first). “We just looked at each other, pure panic on our faces. We were like, Holy fucking shit,” she said. When she finished reading the script, “I think the first thing I said to Tom was, This is so genius. It is such a shame that we’re never going to be able to make this movie.”
Expect a ton of outfits in the film that pay homage to Barbie's fashion history.
“The key thing about Barbie is that she dresses with intention,” the film's costume designer Jacqueline Durran said. “Barbie doesn’t dress for the day. She dresses for the task.”
Gerwig and Robbie sought to cast people with “Barbie energy” to play the dolls.
“Gal Gadot is Barbie energy,” Robbie explained, although Gadot was not available to do the film. “Because Gal Gadot is so impossibly beautiful, but you don’t hate her for being that beautiful, because she’s so genuinely sincere, and she’s so enthusiastically kind, that it’s almost dorky. It’s like right before being a dork.” Robbie plays “Stereotypical Barbie,” as Vogue put it, in the film.
Robbie left Ryan Gosling presents every day “from Barbie to Ken” to help him find his character.
“She left a pink present with a pink bow, from Barbie to Ken, every day while we were filming,” he said. “They were all beach-related. Like puka shells, or a sign that says ‘Pray for surf.’ Because Ken’s job is just beach. I’ve never quite figured out what that means. But I felt like she was trying to help Ken understand, through these gifts that she was giving.”
Robbie used a This American Life podcast episode that Gerwig sent her to find her character as Barbie.
“I was like, Greta, I need to go on this whole character journey. And Greta was like, Oh, I have a really good podcast for you,” Robbie said, noting it was an episode about a woman who doesn’t introspect. “You know how you have a voice in your head all the time? This woman, she doesn’t have that voice in her head.” (The episode is likely “Penny For Your Non-Thoughts.”)
Robbie also said she approached the character as if Barbie doesn't feel sexual desire.
“I’m like, Okay, she’s a doll. She’s a plastic doll. She doesn’t have organs. If she doesn’t have organs, she doesn’t have reproductive organs. If she doesn’t have reproductive organs, would she even feel sexual desire? No, I don’t think she could,” Robbie explained. “[So yes,] she is sexualized. But she should never be sexy. People can project sex onto her. Yes, she can wear a short skirt, but because it’s fun and pink. Not because she wanted you to see her butt.”
Her Barbie's voice (a “General American accent. It’s called GenAm”) will change throughout the film to mark her character journey.
At the start of the movie, it will be in a higher register, and “everything is very definite. There’s no second thought. There’s no hesitation,” Robbie said. It will sound lower later.
Gerwig said Ken will also go on a major character journey.
“The Kens have a journey in front of them. In the beginning of the movie, nobody thinks about Ken. Nobody worries about Ken. Ken doesn’t have a house. Or a car. Or a job. Or any power. And, um, that is gonna be sort of unsustainable.”
You can read Robbie's full interview here.
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