Greta Gerwig thought that 'Barbie' could be a 'career-ender' before filming: 'It was terrifying'

Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken in Barbie

Greta Gerwig had some serious initial concerns about getting all dolled up for her upcoming Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie.

The director, who co-wrote the film's script with partner Noah Baumbach, revealed that she was simultaneously excited and "terrified" of helming the project before production began last March.

"It was terrifying. I think that was a big part of it," Gerwig said on Dua Lipa's At Your Service podcast on Friday. "I think there's something about starting from that place where it's like, 'Well, anything is possible!' It felt like vertigo starting to write it. Like, where do you even begin? What would be the story?"

Despite feeling daunted by the idea of bringing the legendary toy franchise to the silver screen, Gerwig praised the film — which stars Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken — for pushing her out of her comfort zone.

"That feeling that I had was knowing that it would be really interesting terror. Usually that's where the best stuff is," she shared. "When you're like, 'I am terrified of that.' Anything where you're like, 'This could be a career-ender,' then you're like, 'Ok, I probably should do it.'"

She also felt comforted knowing that her vision for the film — and all of its cowboy hats, '80s spandex, and Kenergy — had both Robbie, who is a co-producer, and Mattel's full support behind it.

"Mattel were amazing partners who have given us such trust and such freedom and I think that that is incredibly rare," Gerwig said. "Whatever we wanted it to be, they did not try to micromanage it. They were completely onboard as partners and that was extraordinary."

Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken in Barbie
Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken in Barbie

Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.(2) Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in 'Barbie'

Instead, Gerwig noted that they gave her access to the full Barbie archives. "They really gave us their trust," she said. "And I think a big reason for that was actually Margot and Tom [Ackerley] and the way they also, you know, said, 'We want to make this movie and we want to make her vision. We don't have to make any Barbie movie. We want to make this one.'"

As a result, Gerwig said, she was "very much supported in what I wanted to do." She added, "I usually know on a gut level if something feels right. And if it doesn't you can lie to yourself, but it's not gonna wind up in a good spot."

The film — which boasts a star-studded cast including Simu Liu, Issa Rae, Michael Cera, America Ferrera, and more — will hit theaters on July 21, 2023.

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