Once upon a time on the internet, back when “hey girl” memes abounded, Ryan Gosling was known in certain circles as the Internet’s boyfriend. Now, we’re getting a first glimpse of Gosling as America’s boyfriend—he’s playing Ken, as in the Ken doll, the on-off paramour of Barbie, in the upcoming Greta Gerwig-directed film Barbie.
(And for what it’s worth, Gosling, speaking to GQ back in 2016, attributed his boyfriendish public persona to his “Canadianness.” Okay!)
In a promo image released today, Gosling-as-Ken feels a little like a mashup of previous characters he’s played: the icy peroxide mane just like Luke’s from The Place Beyond the Pines; the spray-tanned sleaze of Jacob in Crazy, Stupid, Love; the conceit of dating a plastic woman like he did in Lars and the Real Girl. Starring opposite Margot Robbie as Barbie, Gosling is rumored to be playing one of several Kens—among several Barbies—in the film, which also stars America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, Emma Mackey, Issa Rae, and Michael Cera, among others, more of whom are sure to be revealed in the leadup to its July 2023 release.
And while the cutoff acid-wash jean vest and custom Calvin Klein-style “Ken” briefs may not be anything you’ve ever seen a Ken doll wear before, the vibe of Gerwig’s production suggests that might be the point. (Last year’s Berluti collab suggests that Ken might have more up his sleeve than we realize.)
“People generally hear ‘Barbie’ and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’” Robbie told Vogue last year, “and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I don’t…’”
The Barbie franchise has been through the Hollywood ringer for nearly a decade now, with various players at the helm: as IndieWire noted, screenwriter Diablo Cody was set to write and direct at one point; years later in 2016, Amy Schumer was set to star, with a new script by Community producer Hilary Winston. But now it’s in Gerwig’s hands, and will be here in about a year.