When Margot Robbie, who produced and stars in the Barbie movie out this summer, and director Greta Gerwig were casting the movie, they wanted actresses who could exude what they describe as “Barbie energy.” But as Robbie told Vogue in an in-depth, new feature on the making of the film, they kept coming back to one actress. “Gal Gadot is Barbie energy,” Robbie said. “Because Gal Gadot is so impossibly beautiful, but you don’t hate her for being that beautiful, because she’s so genuinely sincere, and she’s so enthusiastically kind, that it’s almost dorky. It’s like right before being a dork.”
Ultimately, Gadot wasn’t available, but Vogue lists the actresses whom Robbie and Gerwig felt beamed “Barbie energy” and were available: Issa Rae, Hari Nef, Emma Mackey, Dua Lipa, Sharon Rooney, Ana Cruz Kayne, Alexandra Shipp, and Kate McKinnon, among others. Robbie, the magazine says, is “Stereotypical Barbie.”
Casting Ken also required special attention since, in Barbie’s world, Ken is Barbie’s ultimate sidekick. Vogue reports that Helen Mirren delivers a voiceover in the movie explaining, “Barbie has a great day every day; Ken only has a great day if Barbie looks at him.” Gerwig pointed out in the article that Ken’s second banana status is sort of like the Bible in reverse. “Ken was invented after Barbie, to burnish Barbie’s position in our eyes and in the world,” she said. “That kind of creation myth is the opposite of the creation myth in Genesis.” They found what they needed in Ryan Gosling.
One of the last things they needed to figure out when casting the movie is just how to present Barbie and Ken as sexual creatures. That is if they are “sexy” at all. “I’m like, ‘OK, she’s a doll,’” Robbie said. “‘She’s a plastic doll. She doesn’t have organs. If she doesn’t have organs, she doesn’t have reproductive organs. If she doesn’t have reproductive organs, would she even feel sexual desire? No, I don’t think she could.” That thought process led Robbie to conclude that Barbie “is sexualized, but she should never be sexy. People can project sex onto her. … She can wear a short skirt, but because it’s fun and pink. Not because she wanted you to see her butt.”
Barbie’s producers revealed the many Barbies that will appear in the film, out July 21, in a trailer that came out last month. Rae plays “President Barbie,” Ritu Arya is “Journalist Barbie,” Mackey is “Physicist Barbie,” and Kate McKinnon is “Gymnast Barbie,” among others.