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Greta Gerwig’s Barbie World Keeps Getting Bigger

Barbie girl. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The mystery around the Barbie film just keeps building. After all, making a live-action Barbie movie is one thing, but making a Barbie movie directed by indie darling Greta Gerwig of Lady Bird and Little Women fame is a completely different beast. The movie is still a while out — set to release July 21, 2023 — but the hype is building with each new plot detail, photograph, and unearthed Letterboxd account we get. The film has been snatching up Hollywood celebs in its manicured plastic fists to the point where it’s getting harder and harder to keep track. Here’s all the casting, traile, and release date information we know so far. C’mon, jump in.

Can I get the Barbie basics?

First, we know Gerwig and her husband, Marriage Story writer Noah Baumbach, are writing the screenplay and Gerwig is directing. We know Margot Robbie took on the starring role of the Mattel doll after Amy Schumer dropped out over creative differences, and Ryan Gosling will play Ken. Photos of both the stars have been released, and if neither of them makes your heart flutter, you’re boring!

Avatar: The Way of Water audiences were treated to a teaser trailer entering a fantastical world entirely separate from Pandora — the Barbie World. On December 16, Warner Bros. released the teaser for the upcoming film, which is still a bit low on plot. The teaser, above, is a reference to the ape scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, giving more credence to the whole “Barbie is going highbrow” theory. Featured in the teaser are short clips of the rest of Barbie’s world — including some recognizable faces.

What is going on in this movie?

What we do know is what it won’t be about. Schumer left the project because she very specifically wanted Barbie to be an “ambitious inventor.” She dropped out before Gerwig and Baumbach came onto the project but after the studio asked her if Barbie’s invention could be a “high heel made out of Jell-O.” That was absolutely sexist but sounds fun to try on.

Before being produced by Warner Bros, the film was originally going to be produced by Sony and had “a fish-out-of-water story a la Splash and Big, whereby Barbie gets kicked out of Barbieland because she’s not perfect enough, a bit eccentric and doesn’t fit in,” Deadline reported. In the original plot, “She then goes on an adventure in the real world and by the time she returns to Barbieland to save it, she has gained the realization that perfection comes on the inside, not the outside, and that the key to happiness is belief in oneself, free of the obligation to adhere to some unattainable standard of perfection.” It’s unclear if that is the plot of Gerwig and Baumbach’s version of the script, but it’s safe to assume these icons of mumblecore are going to weird it up somehow.

Who else is in the cast?

Every actor you’ve heard of in the past five years is either in this movie or in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Sex Education standout and Margot Robbie clone Emma Mackey will be in the movie, giving Robbie and Mackey a chance to prove they’re not actually the same person in different fonts. (Now all we need is for Samara Weaving and Jaime Pressly to join the cast for true ascendance.) Beyond that uncanny double act, it is rumored that multiple actors will play both Barbie and Ken. Hari Nef and Issa Rae are playing Barbies, and Ryan Gosling is joined in Ken-ly duties by Simu Liu and new Doctor Who (and fellow Sex Education alum) Ncuti Gatwa.

Rae joined the project solely for Gerwig. “I’d met her once before, at the BAFTAs, and really, really loved her,” Rae told the Hollywood Reporter in a December 7 story. “That was years ago, and then at this meeting, she was like, ‘I don’t know if you remember me,’ and I was like, ‘Girl, if you don’t shut up.’” Rae dropped another clue that the film was a little … high concept. “She was explaining the Barbie script to me. She was like, ‘I just need to explain what it is,’” Rae teased. “And I’ll be 100 percent honest, when she was talking, like, it was entertaining, but I didn’t get it. I was like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck she was talking about, but whatever it is, I’m excited she’s behind it.’ And then reading it was, like, ‘Oh my God, I love her even more.’” A Barbie movie that confuses Issa Rae? Oh, we’re so in.

Will Ferrell is appearing, meaning he’ll now be the star of two separate shockingly intellectual toy-based films. He will be taking on a role as the CEO of a toy company in an apparent nod to Mattel, the company that manufactures Barbies, Hot Wheels, and American Girl dolls. Michael Cera, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Ariana Greenblatt, and Alexandra Shipp will be joining the Barbie cast in as yet unspecified roles.

Is anyone not in this movie?

Apparently not. Even Saoirse Ronan was rumored to be joining the cast but confirmed she had a conflict. Don’t ask us what this means for reports that pop star Dua Lipa is featured. Life in plastic just won’t be fully fantastic until we have more details.

Do you know where we can get Ryan Gosling’s Ken underwear?


This story has been updated throughout.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie World Keeps Getting Bigger