Margot Robbie will officially play Barbie in an upcoming live-action film that Warner Bros. and Mattel announced in 2019. The Oscar-nominated actress will also coproduce the movie under her company, LuckyChap Entertainment, alongside husband Tom Ackerley and producer Josey McNamara.
This project will mark the first live-action film from the Barbie franchise, and the first movie deal from Mattel Films, the film division of the company behind Barbie and other iconic toys. Here’s what we know so far.
The trailer promises a subversive satire.
“Since the first little girl ever existed, there have been dolls,” a voice narrates in the opening shot in the first teaser trailer for Barbie, which came out in December 2022. The camera pans over little girls sitting desolately in a desert. “But the dolls were always and forever baby dolls, until …”
More From Harper's BAZAAR
Enter Robbie, who appears as a giant first iteration of the Mattel doll from 1959, complete with a pin-up ponytail and a black-and-white striped swimsuit.
In a trailer released in April 2023, a firm plot for the film still seemed to be under wraps, but there were hints at trouble in paradise for Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling). Barbie seems to want some independence and space, while Ken is being quite clingy. What does this mean for the rest of the Barbie-verse!?
In the film’s third full-length trailer, released today, we discover more about the core plot. Barbie and Ken appear to venture off into "the Real World" (hilariously depicted by a Barbie-fied Kate McKinnon asking Barbie to chose between stilettos and a pair of Birkenstocks), where they soon discover how gender and patriarchal archetypes rule society. The new trailer also offers a closer look at the movie’s soundtrack, which features new music from Dua Lipa and Nicki Minaj.
There are a whopping 24 official posters featuring the full cast.
Fans got a first look at the full cast for Barbie where the film’s official social media channels shared 24 individual posters featuring the core cast of Barbies, Kens, and humans! The new posters confirmed some long-rumored casting decisions, including Dua Lipa as a “mermaid” Barbie. See all of the posters here.
Margot Robbie already looks the part.
In a first-look photo shared at CinemaCon 2022, fans got to see Robbie in the titular role. In the image, she is riding around in her pink convertible sporting a headband and a matching halter top.
The studio also released a glimpse of Ryan Gosling in character as Barbie’s main man, Ken. He looks almost unrecognizable in a denim vest, matching jeans, platinum blond hair and a very serious faux tan.
Robbie is “honored” to take on the role.
In a press release, Robbie praised Barbie for promoting “confidence, curiosity and communication” through childhood, and empowering kids “to imagine themselves in aspirational roles from a princess to president.”
“I’m so honored to take on this role and produce a film that I believe will have a tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide,” she added in her statement.
The actress has undergone some impressive transformations for her previous roles, including Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, and Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots. And although fans may be quick to tout the actress as a real-life Barbie, she has actually avoided being typecast for roles based on her looks.
“When I was trying to make my name as an actress, creative roles for women were limited,” she told Harper’s BAZAAR in her December 2018/January 2019 cover story. “I didn’t want to pick up another script where I was the wife or the girlfriend—just a catalyst for the male story line. It was uninspiring.”
Rumors of Robbie’s casting had been circulating for years.
Speculation about Robbie’s casting as Barbie first began in 2015, after a Sony email leak reportedly revealed that she was among the actresses potentially being considered to play the famous doll. Years later, in October 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Robbie was in talks to star in and produce the film with Warner Bros.
She also wasn’t the only star attached to the film. In 2016, Amy Schumer had reportedly landed the role but dropped out a few months later due to scheduling conflicts, according to THR. In 2017, Anne Hathaway was reported to possibly star.
Greta Gerwig is directing.
Greta Gerwig has been attached to the Barbie flick since 2019, when she was confirmed to write the script with Noah Baumbach. Now, the Little Women filmmaker is set to direct the film as well, as sources have confirmed to Variety. (Robbie mentioned it in a recent interview as well.)
It will be released in theaters in 2023.
Fans will have to wait a couple years to see this film come to life. Gerwig and Baumbach will first work on their latest project, White Noise, before production for Barbie begins in early 2022 at Warner Bros.’ Leavesden Studios in London, Variety reported. For now, the film’s release date is July 21, 2023.
Ryan Gosling is set to play Ken.
The film has landed another heavy hitter for its male lead. Blue Valentine actor Ryan Gosling is in final negotiations to play Barbie’s beau Ken, per Deadline. The Academy Award nominee has apparently been the studio’s only choice from the beginning, and he has now signed on after finding an opening in his schedule. With Gosling signing on, it looks like the long-awaited project can start filming in early 2022.
Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Hari Nef, and more have joined the film’s jam-packed cast.
Several cast announcements have been rolling out in the past few weeks, with major stars joining Robbie and Gosling in the upcoming film. One surprising casting, Sex Education star Emma Mackey, has drawn attention since she and Robbie look so similar. While no details from the plot have been released, the castings add more allure to Gerwig’s take on the Mattel doll’s story.
So far, the cast includes Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera, Shang Chi star Simu Liu, Will Ferrell, And Just Like That's Hari Nef, Issa Rae, Michael Cera, Alexandra Shipp, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Rhea Perlman, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa, Oscar winner Emerald Fennell, Sharon Rooney, Scott Evans, Ana Cruz Kayne, Connor Swindells, Ritu Arya, and Jamie Demetriou.
There will be a big dance sequence.
While most of the cast has been tight-lipped on what to expect from the film, Shang Chi actor Simu Liu has revealed in several interviews that his role involves a huge dance scene. He first teased the dance in a GQ UK interview, where he shared that he was cast after telling Gerwig about his hip-hop dance experience.
“Greta was talking about how much she loved watching men dance, because it’s such an expression of artistry you’re not used to seeing from typical men,” he told the outlet.
Liu also mentioned filming the dance sequence in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, saying the set feels like the actors are just hanging out and having fun and dancing. Though he didn’t mention who else is involved in the scene, there are new rumors for some unconfirmed parts.
If the chatter is true, Liu will actually be playing another version of Ken, along with confirmed Ken Ryan Gosling and second rumoured Ken (and confirmed Doctor Who star) Ncuti Gatwa. There may also be multiple Barbies, with both Issa Rae and Hari Nef playing versions of the doll. Basically, whatever you thought could happen in this jam-packed film, it’s time to think bigger.
Watch this space for updates.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she's listening to Lorde right now.
Quinci LeGardye is an LA-based freelance writer who covers culture, politics, and mental health through a Black feminist lens. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.