WHEN IT WAS FIRST ANNOUNCED THAT Ryan Gosling would take on the role of Ken in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, the internet wasn’t entirely convinced. One of the strongest critics was that Gosling, renowned for his roles in Bladerunner and The Notebook, didn’t look dumb enough the play Barbie’s air-headed boyfriend.
Through the teasers, trailers and ultimately the film, the actor well and truly proved the nay-sayers wrong — “y’all he looks so STUPID (complimentary),” read one Tweet upon the release of the first official film posters. And not only has the film, which was released in theatres on July 20, proved Gosling was in fact the perfect choice, but it’s also seen him become a Billboard Hot 100 artist.
“I’m Just Ken,” Gosling’s pining, post-patriachy ballad has entered the charts in its first week at No. 87. The track, written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, was primed for TikTok virality since its inception, and sees Barbie’s superfluous (her words, not ours) other half question why the doll won’t love him back. Hint: It might have something to do with the whole taking over Barbieland and singing Matchbox Twenty’s “Push” at her for four hours, but that’s just our opinion.
If somehow you haven’t heard the tune yet, here’s the gist:
“Cause I’m just Ken / Anywhere else I’d be a ten / Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility / I’m just Ken / Where I see love, she sees a friend / What will it take for her to see the man behind the tan and fight for me?”
Poetic, really. Watch the full scene below.
It’s safe to say the world has finally recognised Golsing’s Kenergy. But one person who never, ever doubted it was Gerwig.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the critically-acclaimed director revealed that from the jump, Gosling was her only option to play Mr Plastic Fantastic himself.
“It was only ever Ryan Gosling, and it was a long journey,” she told the publication. “Margot and I just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“From the moment that Margot came to me and I knew we were making this for Margot, I equally knew we were making this for Ryan. And I did not know Ryan at all. I’d never met him. I just was sure, and as soon as I thought of it, it made me so happy.”
She added, “Who else could do this? It’s some combination of Marlon Brando meets Gene Wilder meets John Barrymore meets John Travolta.”
While Gerwig was convinced she’d found her leading man, Gosling wasn’t 100 per cent on board. Deadline reports that he initially passed on the offer due to scheduling conflicts, but revisited following the studio’s persistence. But, during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in June 2022, the actor revealed the strange twist that ultimately convinced him to take on the role.
Noting that the script was the “best [he’d] ever read,” Gosling said he took a moment outside, to mull over the offer in the fresh air. “I walk out in the backyard and you know where I found Ken, Jimmy? Face down in the mud next to a squished lemon,” he told Fallon. If he was looking for a sign, that was it.
“I texted it to Greta and said, ‘I shall be your Ken, for this story must be told,'” he added.