Barbie director Greta Gerwig always knew that Ryan Gosling’s surf-loving Ken character was only there as a supporting role to Margot Robbie’s Barbie.
“Barbie was invented first,” Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the script with her partner, Noah Baumbach, says in Vogue‘s summer cover story about Robbie.
Greta Gerwig on the Barbie and Ken Creation Myth
“Ken was invented after Barbie, to burnish Barbie’s position in our eyes and in the world. That kind of creation myth is the opposite of the creation myth in Genesis.”
He’s a side character and everyone knows it. It’s been that way since Ken was first introduced in 1961, two years after Barbie’s 1959 debut. According to Vogue, Ken was created in response to letters insisting that Barbie needed a boyfriend.
Robbie calls Gosling’s performance as Ken “the greatest version of Ryan Gosling ever put on screen.”
But Gosling was just along for the ride.
Here’s What Ryan Gosling Has to Say About Ken
“Ken wasn’t really on my bucket list. But in fairness, I don’t have a bucket list. So I thought I’d give it a shot,” he told Vogue.
In the brief snippet of Barbie that Vogue writer Abby Aguirre was allowed to see, Helen Mirren delivers a telling voiceover: “Barbie has a great day every day. Ken only has a great day if Barbie looks at him.”
And while Barbie has infinite occupations on any given day, Ken’s sole occupation is “just beach,” Gosling says.
“It would be very un-Ken of me to talk about Ken,” he said, declining to reveal how he found his character — but he did say how Robbie helped him embrace the simple beachiness of Ken.
“She left a pink present with a pink bow, from Barbie to Ken, every day while we were filming. 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.”
Main Image: RYAN GOSLING as Ken in Warner Bros. Pictures’ BARBIE, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures