Ryan Gosling Was Inspired by Jennifer Jason Leigh in ‘Single White Female’ for ‘Barbie’

Ryan Gosling is delivering a darker take on Ken.

The “Barbie” star, who is Oscar-nominated for his turn as Stereotypical Barbie’s (Margot Robbie) would-be love interest, explained in a Variety cover story that he took Ken’s affection for Barbie to be more obsessive than endearing.

More from IndieWire

“I thought, ‘Ken is “Single White Female”-ing Barbie,'” Gosling recalled, citing the Jennifer Jason Leigh-led psychological thriller that saw a mirroring pattern of obsession between two roommates. “So he would try to dye his hair, even though he can’t dye his hair. I thought, ‘I should bleach my hair, but it should be an off version of hers.'”

Gosling added that, at first, for his Ken look, he had an “almost Redford wig, they called it,” that made him look like a luxury beach hotel employee. “I looked at the screen test, and I thought it wasn’t Ken,” Gosling said. “I looked like I worked at Shutters or something.”

He instead ended up bleaching his hair, adding, “What was weird was I ended up looking like I did at 8 or 12, which was the era I was revisiting anyway” circa his “Mickey Mouse Club” era days.

“The Fall Guy” actor, whose upcoming film is headlining SXSW 2024, noted that Ken was the “hardest role I’ve ever had to play. It was like a high-wire act — in tiny shorts and no shirt — with no net.”

“In some way, everything I’ve done led to it,” Gosling said. “And I can’t believe I’m saying that. There were moments when I would do it where I’d think, ‘I haven’t felt like I’ve worked this hard since “Blue Valentine.”‘ There were moments when I left ‘Blue Valentine’ just completely emotionally spent, laying on the floor of the car on the ride home just done — empty. And it was even harder to play Ken. And I thought, ‘How am I feeling that on this film?'”

Gosling previously told W Magazine that he knew immediately after reading the “Barbie” script, written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, that it was obvious the role would be a challenge.

“How do you approach playing a 70-year-old crotchless doll? There’s no research you can do for that,” Gosling said. “There’s no one you can shadow, no documentaries you can watch, no books written about Ken. You’re on your own.”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.