Jennifer Jul 23, 2023 Interviews

Barbie Land advisory: This article contains spoilers for Barbie.

Ryan Gosling has seen his Barbie costar America Ferrera’s TED Talk, much to her endearing surprise.

“You watched my TED Talk?” a stunned Ferrera asks during EW’s Around the Table with the cast and director Greta Gerwig (above), conducted prior to the actors’ strike.

“I love your TED Talk,” Gosling replies in earnest, calling it powerful and prompting a moved reaction from the Ugly Betty Emmy winner and activist.

Titled “My Identity Is a Superpower,” the moving soliloquy about knowing and loving who you are within a non-inclusive, repressive system is not unlike her big monologue in Barbie.

As Gloria, a human and Mattel employee from the real world with a special connection to Margot Robbie’s Stereotypical Barbie, Ferrera’s character plays a central role in the restoration of Barbie Land. When the feminist utopia is overtaken by the Kens, spearheaded by Gosling’s central Ken after he’s corrupted by the real world and the patriarchy (though he was only in it for the horses, so maybe give the misguided doll a break on that one), the Barbies become brainwashed and submissive. It’s an impassioned spiel from Gloria — centered on all the traps that accompany womanhood, weighed down by impossible societal expectations — that help break the spell, returning the Barbies to their natural form.

Both Gloria and Stereotypical Barbie — oh, and good ol’ Allan (played by an excellent Michael Cera), who simply does not subscribe to the Kentriarchy — one by one kidnap the brainwashed Barbies to deliver the big monologue and break the spell.

“It’s such a powerful moment in the movie and every time I’ve seen it, people erupt in applause,” Gosling tells Ferrera. ‘It feels so true. And what’s even more powerful about it is that it feels so authentic to you because you have had so many moments in your career where you’ve said the truthful thing at the right time. Your TED Talk is a great example.”

For Ferrera, “I mostly tried to forget about it ’till I had to do it,” she admits of preparing for the daunting monologue, citing her anxieties to get it right. “Greta didn’t make it easy,” she says. “You were like, ‘There’s a monologue. Meryl Streep says she would like to do this monologue. I was like cool, no pressure!'”

The big scene, which occurs at Weird Barbie’s (Kate McKinnon) eclectic dreamhouse, was shot toward the end of production, “so it felt like I was holding it for a long time and the energy was building, building, building,” Ferrera explains. “My experience of the moment was that Greta gave me so much space and so much trust. I obviously didn’t wanna eff it up. I wanted to do it justice.” It was easier to tap into, she observes, once it occurred to her that it was rooted in truth-telling at its core.

“There’s no woman in my life that this isn’t true for,” Ferrera says. “So like, how do you tell the truth? That was the goal.” With Gerwig’s trust, she adds, “I felt like I could go to all the places because I had so much trust that you would know what was right for the movie… I felt like that was freedom, to have so much trust in the leader of like, ‘She’ll know, so I’m free to do what I want and she’ll make it right.'”

The movie and its pastel-pink empowering themes have so far largely garnered rave reviews, with EW’s Devan Coggan hailing it as “fierce, funny, and deeply feminist” in her A- critique. “It’s Gerwig’s care and attention to detail that gives Barbie an actual point of view, elevating it beyond every other cynical, IP-driven cash grab,” she writes, adding, “Turns out that life in plastic really can be fantastic.” Even before release, though, the film quickly captured the cultural zeitgeist, with leaked set photos and the trailer’s infamous arched feet shot feeding the anticipation.

Of the fervor, Robbie, also a producer on the film, offers: “I think Barbie’s been capturing people’s attention since the day she was invented. She is an icon but she’s a very complicated one. There’s been times when Barbie has been ahead of her times and there’s been times when she’s been behind her times, but she’s always been evolving. I feel like this movie’s the next evolution.”

Barbie is in theaters now.

Source: Entertainment Weekly