Maybe you’ve seen the things Ryan Gosling has been saying about his involvement with Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, and maybe you have the fortune of not being terminally online. If it’s the latter, allow me to explain. While doing the press circuit for the “visionary” Russo brothers’ new Netflix product—I mean movie, The Gray Man, which Gosling stars in, journalists have been unsurprisingly probing the actor about what it was like embodying the role of the Ken doll. Since set photos of the Little Women and Lady Bird director’s next film began tumbling out like a trail of neon pink breadcrumbs this summer, and since Gosling has been notoriously MIA from the film industry for the past four years, Gray Man junkets have been awash with eager questions about his far more interesting and exciting upcoming project.
Barbie is certainly the name on everyone’s mind. It’s very much on Gosling’s mind, maybe even more than his new film from two Marvel directors, one which seems to have already been promptly forgotten about over the weekend that it premiered on Netflix—even if it has already earned a sequel from the algorithm. As filming on Barbie wrapped this past week, Gosling—now free from cowboy hats, rollerblades and cut-off denim vests—can open up about the hotly anticipated film. And, boy, he sure is saying some…things!
Gosling has been fielding questions about Barbie as if he has been locked in a basement for the past four years, withheld food and sunlight, only now finally allowed to speak. He went on the defense during an interview with Jimmy Fallon about people “clutching their pearls” over the promotional image of him fully Kennified, “as though they ever thought about Ken for a second before this. They never played with Ken! Nobody plays with Ken, man.”
In that same interview, he reveals that he took “a Ken doll face down next to a squished lemon” in his backyard (which he provided a photo of) as a sign that he should take on the role back when it was offered to him. He then apparently texted Gerwig and said, “I shall be your Ken, for his story must be told.”
Then, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Gosling really goes off the rails. He coins the term “Ken-ergy,” which is something that he has. He uses the term multiple times during the interview. He claims that “Ken life is even harder than the Gray Man life, I think. Ken’s got no money, he’s got no job, he’s got no car, he’s got no house. He’s going through some stuff.”
He also says about the movie, being intentionally vague, “It’s not what you think it is, unless it is. And then you know what it is, but I don’t think that’s what you think it is. Wait, what are we talking about?” He was unable to reveal anything more about the film, because “Mattel would come and “box me up.” He also forebodingly told Good Morning America “It’s happening. It’s happening now. The Kens are everywhere.”
Playing the role of the Ken doll is apparently the big one; the role that’s “been coming my whole life,” Gosling told Variety.
What in the world has happened to this man? Is he ok? Is he on drugs? Was he really kept from the outside world since First Man bombed at the box office?
Well, as some have actually pointed out, this isn’t far from normal if you’re at all familiar with Gosling. He’s always had a dry sense of humor, to the point where an array of video compilations have been made on YouTube of some of his funniest moments during interviews (one even claiming that he seems a little under the influence sometimes). It’s the exact type of humor that informed his pitch-perfect performance as hard-up,‘70s private eye Holland March in Shane Black’s seminal neo-noir buddy comedy The Nice Guys.
Who knows? Maybe the role of Ken really is earnestly everything that Gosling is hyping it up to be. He even claims that Gerwig’s script is “the best script [he’d] ever read.” It’s a little hard to believe that a film based on a Mattel toy is even the best script Gerwig has ever written, though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that Ryan Gosling is simply a big Hollywood actor with nothing to lose, who spent the past four years out of the spotlight and is returning by having a little bit of fun with the press. I mean, who doesn’t love a handsome guy with a good sense of humor—even if he’s talking like a children’s toy broke his brain?
Brianna Zigler is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts. Her work has appeared at Little White Lies, Film School Rejects, Thrillist, Bright Wall/Dark Room and more, and she writes a bi-monthly newsletter called That’s Weird. You can follow her on Twitter, where she likes to engage in stimulating discussions on films like Movie 43, Clifford, and Watchmen.