TV & Movies

Greta Gerwig Pushed To Keep Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” Scene In Barbie

“They were like, ‘What do you even mean? What is a dream ballet?’”

Greta Gerwig Pushed To Keep Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken" Scene In 'Barbie'
Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine Barbie without the Kens’ show-stopping song and dance number, but the scene came dangerously close to being cut.

While speaking at the BFI London Film Festival with Succession creator Jesse Armstrong, director Greta Gerwig revealed that a portion of the Ryan Gosling-led performance of “I’m Just Ken” was almost nixed. The description of the dance number, she said, caused confusion among Warner Bros. executives.

“It just said in the script, ‘And then it becomes a dream ballet and they work it out through dance,’” she explained. “There was a big meeting that was like, ‘Do you need this?’ And I was like, ‘Everything in me needs this.’ They were like, ‘What do you even mean? What is a dream ballet?’ And I was like, ‘A dream ballet? Where do I begin!’”

Gerwig explained that the sequence — in which the Kens are instantly transported from the Barbieland beach to an abstract set — was inspired by the classic ’50s musical Singin’ in the Rain, which also uses ballet in innovative ways. “I was like, ‘If people could follow that in Singin’ in the Rain, I think we’ll be fine. I think people will know what this is,’” she recalled. “Even though everything felt right to me and was giving me so much joy in the way we were doing it, it was also like, ‘Oh no, this could be just terrible, but now I’m committed.’”

Ryan Gosling as Ken in ‘Barbie.’Warner Bros.

Gerwig had to fight to keep other key scenes in the final cut of Barbie, too. In a July, she told Rolling Stone that she was advised to cut the moment when Margot Robbie’s Barbie meets an elderly woman at a bus stop and notices her beauty. “It’s a cul-de-sac of a moment, in a way — it doesn’t lead anywhere,” Gerwig said. “It was suggested, ‘Well, you could cut it. And actually, the story would move on just the same.’ And I said, ‘If I cut the scene, I don’t know what this movie is about.’”

Mattel executives also had a problem with a scene they felt was off-brand, so much so that the company’s president flew to London during production to convince Gerwig and Robbie to drop it. In the end, the cast performed it for him live, and he was convinced to let it stay. “When you look on the page, the nuance isn’t there, the delivery isn’t there,” Robbie told Time.

One thing that Gerwig did wind up cutting was a “fart opera” scene — yes, really. “We’ve always tried to get in a proper fart joke and we’ve never done it,” she told IndieWire. “We had like a fart opera in the middle [of Barbie]. I thought it was really funny. And that was not the consensus.”