Greta Gerwig aimed to create a ‘super inclusive world’ in the Barbie live-action film, according to stars Issa Rae and Simu Liu.
The fantasy comedy stars Margot Robbie as the title character, a “stereotypical” Barbie who resides in Barbieland, a matriarchal society where women are self-sufficient and occupy all positions of power.
After Barbie begins to worry about her mortality, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery into the real world – assisted by her “stereotypical” himbo boyfriend Ken (Ryan Gosling).
Barbieland is a haven of inclusivity and diversity, with Barbies and Kens played by actors of colour and the queer experience, as well as people with disabilities.
Rae, who plays “President Barbie”, tells GAY TIMES that Gerwig “set out to make a world where Barbie is super inclusive, even just not limiting who Ken is, what Ken looks like and how he walks out in the world.
“There’s dancers cast as background actors, background Kens who move in a very specific way that I didn’t necessarily imagine my Kens looking like or moving like growing up.”
The Insecure star further explains that Gerwig has ‘opened up a world’ of who can fulfil the role of Barbie and Ken “in the most beautifully realistic way”.
“To build on that,” Liu adds, “it’s about doing away with these boring rules, rules that I grew up with, ‘Boys have to play with this and wear this colour, girls can only play with this and wear this colour.’ That’s just dumb as fuck.”
The Shang-Chi actor stresses that children should be able to “play with whatever toys” they want and to express themselves to their “fullest and most authentic”. (Amen!)
As for their own personal history with Barbie, Rae reveals that she “loved” to play with the doll until it was “not cool to”: As soon as I found out it wasn’t cool, I was like, ‘No! I don’t play with Barbies.’
“I always felt bad about that, that I couldn’t just freely play with Barbies after a certain age without being shunned for it. But, Barbies were my gateway into telling stories and creating drama around characters.
“Also, all the questions I had about life and dating and sex, it played out through Barbies.”
Liu ‘wishes’ he played with dolls because he thinks it would’ve improved his fashion game.
“It would’ve been such a primer in fashion and pattern clashing and colours. That took me a long time. I think I still struggle with it, a lot,” he says. “How amazing would it have been if I had a little bit more exposure to fashion when I was a little bit younger?”
Narrated by Helen Mirren, Barbie also stars Kate McKinnon, Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Sharon Rooney, Dua Lipa, Nicola Coughlan, Ana Cruz Kayne, Rita Arya, Ariana Grenblatt and Rhea Perlman.
Deep breath for even more star power: Ann Roth, Annie Mumolo, Will Ferrell, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa, John Cena, Michael Cera, Jamie Demetriou, Connor Swindells and Emerald Fennell.
Barbie is out 21 July.