Ryan Gosling: No one cared about Ken, ‘Barbie never f–ked with Ken. That’s the point’

One of the annoying things about Barbie’s promotion is that people are going to keep trying to get Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling to explain their “characters” and their “motivations.” There will be analysis of what Barbie means and what the film says. When really, Barbie is the kind of film which should wash over you and we should just acknowledge that the actors signed on to it because they wanted to have a good time and they wanted to work with Greta Gerwig. It really wasn’t a complicated thing. All of that comes up in Ryan Gosling’s GQ interview, where the GQ writer basically spends ten pages interviewing Gosling, all for Gosling to basically say that he didn’t go through some torturous Method acting to play Ken, he just thought it would be fun. Of course, Gosling says a lot of other stuff too. Some highlights:

His four-year absence from films: Gosling’s explanation for his absence from Hollywood is straightforward: He and Mendes had recently had their second kid, “and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them.” Gosling is not one of those people who pictured himself as a parent—the moment he first imagined himself as a father, he says, was the moment immediately before he became one: “Eva said she was pregnant… I would never want to go back, you know? I’m glad I didn’t have control over my destiny in that way, because it was so much better than I ever had dreamed for myself.”

Fatherhood changed his approach to acting: “I treat it more like work now, and not like it’s, you know, therapy. It’s a job, and I think in a way that allows me to be better at it because there’s less interference.”

Playing Ken: “Ken, his job is beach. For 60 years, his job has been beach. What the f–k does that even mean?” So why did he sign on? Part of it, Gosling says, was simply about the chance to work with a bunch of women on a project that puts the female characters forward—“I kind of respond to scripts, I guess, or characters, where there’s that kind of dynamic. I recognize it.” Part of it, Gosling says, actually relates to the kids’ toy thing: His daughters play with Barbies and Ken, sort of. “I did see him, like, face down in the mud outside one day, next to a squished lemon and it was like, This guy’s story does need to be told, you know?”

Ken is no-thoughts-just-vibes: “There’s something about this Ken that really, I think, relates to that version of myself. Just, like, the guy that was putting on Hammer pants and dancing at the mall and smelling like Drakkar Noir and Aqua Net-ing bangs. I owe that kid a lot. I feel like I was very quick to distance myself from him when I started making more serious films. But the reality is that, like, he’s the reason I have everything I have.” Gosling says he’s been thinking about that kid a lot recently: “He didn’t know what he was doing or why he was doing it, he was just doing it, and it’s like, I owe my whole life to him. And I wish I had been more grateful at the time, you know?” He says he spent a lot of time on the Barbie set communing with this younger version of himself, who didn’t have a clue, but who did everything in total earnestness. “I really had to go back and touch base with that little dude and say thank you, and ask for his help.”

His home life: These days Gosling lives in a quiet town in the southern half of California. Because he brings his family to the location of each movie he shoots, he aims to do only one or so per year. Most of the time, he says, he’s simply at home. Relatives come around, Gosling says, but he and Mendes don’t have a nanny; whatever they do, they do it themselves. Gosling is frankly romantic about his life with his daughters and Mendes. He says things were one way, then they were another. “I was looking for her, you know?” Were you conscious of that? “No. But it all makes sense now.”

When he doesn’t know what to do: “I just lean on Eva. She knows what’s important, always. She just somehow knows. So if ever I’m in my head about it, I just ask her.”

The “backlash” against his casting as Ken: “I would say, you know, if people don’t want to play with my Ken, there are many other Kens to play with. It is funny this kind of clutching-your-pearls idea of, like, #notmyken. Like you ever thought about Ken before this? And everyone was fine with that, for him to have a job that is nothing. But suddenly, it’s like, ‘No, we’ve cared about Ken this whole time.’ No, you didn’t. You never did. You never cared. Barbie never f–ked with Ken. That’s the point. If you ever really cared about Ken, you would know that nobody cared about Ken. So your hypocrisy is exposed. This is why his story must be told.”

Correcting his earlier statement about when he knew he wanted kids: “When you asked me about Eva and kids. I think I said, I didn’t think about kids until she told me she was pregnant. That’s not really true. I didn’t want to overshare, but now I also don’t want to misrepresent. I mean, it’s true that I wasn’t thinking about kids before I met her, but after I met Eva, I realized that I just didn’t want to have kids without her. And there were moments on The Place Beyond the Pines where we were pretending to be a family, and I didn’t really want it to be pretend anymore. I realized that this would be a life I would be really lucky to have.”

[From GQ]

I am laughing my ass off at “But suddenly, it’s like, ‘No, we’ve cared about Ken this whole time.’ No, you didn’t. You never did. You never cared. Barbie never f–ked with Ken. That’s the point. If you ever really cared about Ken, you would know that nobody cared about Ken. So your hypocrisy is exposed.” Ryan Gosling is HEATED!! He’s also spitting facts – it’s the truth, Barbie never f–ked with Ken, no one cared about Ken and Ryan didn’t feel the need to do a deep dive on why Ken exists. Ryan just showed up and did the Work of Ken: Just Beach.

As for what he says about Eva and their family… it’s really sweet. While I was suspicious of their whole deal in the beginning, I love how much they adore each other and how they manage to keep their family life totally off the radar. This is the most he’s ever talked about Eva and their life together. It’s so sweet.

Cover & IG courtesy of GQ.

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47 Responses to “Ryan Gosling: No one cared about Ken, ‘Barbie never f–ked with Ken. That’s the point’”

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  1. Busybody says:

    I volunteer for my job to be beach.

  2. HeyKay says:

    I have no interest in the Barbie movie.
    But I give Margo and Ryan credit they have been hyping this movie forever it seems.

    • Tacky says:

      I can’t wait to see it. It looks really funny. Kate McKinnon’s Barbie is exactly what all my Barbies looked like after my little sister played with them.

      • Beadlady says:

        My sister tortured all of my Barbies too! They were in great condition. Now they look like Kate McKinnon’s Barbie. So funny!

    • justwhy says:

      Thank you! Glad I’m not the only one who won’t be seeing the film. Maybe it’s because I’m unable to shake the association between Gerwig and white feminism, but the film doesn’t appeal. Soz!

  3. Inge says:

    That part about how he owes his life to the young kid he left behind but is now reconnecting with was really sweet.

    Also yay for him wanting to work with women on a project that puts women forward.

    And I’m loving all his interviews re Ken!

  4. Lucía says:

    100% sold on this movie. It’s gonna be crazy and amazing. Ryan sounds so cool and fun here.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      “So your hypocrisy is exposed. This is why his story must be told.”

      This line cracked me up for a good five minutes. WE’re talking Ken here!

  5. Nubia says:

    I was also surprised at his casting, he just didn’t seem like a Ken in a superficial way. I would have pictured Henry Cavill or Matt Bomer types.

    • whatever says:

      I was really surprised, too. I was like, “why would you cast him, when Antony Starr was RIGHT THERE?”

  6. Ameerah M says:

    I actually thought casting him as Ken was genius. But then I remember the Gosling of yesteryear that he refers to in this interview. So it tracked for me. I have never been a big Eva fan but I do love their relationship and how much they clearly adore each other and keep their family life private.

  7. Grant says:

    This was a sweet interview. I’m so excited for Barbie. I’m also coveting that beautiful pink trench he’s wearing on the cover!

  8. Snuffles says:

    Once you remember he was in the Mickey Mouse club, his casting makes perfect sense.

  9. Blue Nails Betty says:

    Ryan’s interviews have made me feel so guilty. I had a Ken doll (and a Rod!) but my Barbie was hot for Johnny West (a cowboy doll, er, action figure).

    Now I realize how simple and fun Ken was and my Barbie deserved that. Johnny was rugged and masculine but he did not have the same fun vibe that Ken had. Barbie deserved better.

    But seriously, I can’t wait to see this movie. I have no expectations of it other than being 1.5-2 hours of pure, unadulterated fun.

    • Lightpurple says:

      My Barbie dallied with Johnny West too but she ditched both Johnny & Ken for GI Joe.

    • Smart&Messy says:

      BN Betty, tell Barbie not to beat herself up about it too much. Haven’t we all made the same mistake, falling for ruggedly handsome douche when dependable kind guy was right in front of us? Been there done that. I’m sure she learned her lesson to only expect a hot tryst from Johnny and Ken and Rod are the true relationship material.

  10. ClaireB says:

    I never really understood the appeal of Ryan Gosling so I haven’t paid much attention to him. I really enjoyed reading this interview and his blunt honesty about the importance of Ken!

  11. Mslove says:

    I never had a Ken doll. I had to make do with my brothers G.I. Joe doll, and Joe was not beach. Anyway, I can’t wait to see this movie.

  12. The Old Chick says:

    I follow Eva on SM. She seems nice, funny, a control freak, a definite clean freak. She does have the most amazing dress game. If only I still had a waist

  13. Digital Unicorn says:

    I think his casting of Ken was genius – so really keen to see him more than Margot as Barbie. I NOW care about Ken.

    Ryan was never my thing until I saw these shots – he’s aging well plus he seems like he has my sense of humour.

  14. K says:

    This is one of my favorite interviews I have ever read. They kinda have the Kurt and Goldie vibe and it sounds good. 💜💛

  15. Lexilla says:

    This is how I know I’m old. When I hear “f— with” I think “mess with.” Like “Stop f—ing with me.” But Lainey always says she doesn’t “f— with” things she doesn’t like, and it sounds like Ryan means it the same way? I don’t f— with TikTok so excuse my ignorance. 😄

  16. JM says:

    Who did pregnant Barbie have babies with? I always assumed Ken

    • Emily says:

      It was totally Ken. But the fact that we have to assume shows how unimportant Ken is lol.

  17. AnneL says:

    This makes me smile. Gosling doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. I love his approach to playing Ken and the way he handled the questions. On the one hand, it’s “He’s just Ken. That’s it. He’s a nobody” but on the other hand it’s like “Justice for Ken!”

    I can’t wait to see this.

    • Shawna says:

      Putting those together, it’s “justice for nobodies.” It’s a neat perspective.

  18. Shawna says:

    “I treat it more like work now, and not like it’s, you know, therapy. It’s a job, and I think in a way that allows me to be better at it because there’s less interference.” I feel this. One reason I had a kid was because I felt like my priorities were off…. I felt I’d become a bit one-dimensional because of my obsession with work. (Not that I think all women need to have babies, just in my own case I felt that way.)

  19. yellowy says:

    I can’t articulate how much I hate the Ryan Gosling “hey girl” meme during the tumblr era.

    But that’s not his fault.

  20. Elsa says:

    I am super hyped about Barbie and I love the casting. I plan on leaning into the Barbie summer vibe and going to see it with my daughters or my sis.

  21. j.ferber says:

    I love that point he makes about Barbie not connecting with Ken. He was another accessory, like a walking purse.

  22. angie says:

    I don’t know what he’s talking about.. who actually thinks about Barbie and Ken? Anyhow, I’m delightfully surprised there is at least one man in Hollywood who is NOT growing old gracefully! Hooray! Face bloat / fillers/ hair weave/ spray tan? He looks busted.

    • dj says:

      Sorry angie. I respectfully disagree. He looks crazy hot here in this “dirty cowboy” shots. No hair weave. Definitely no face bloat. Maybe you missed him in “The Gray Man.” He was super buff in that. I must be looking at different pictures than you.

  23. Eurydice says:

    Poor Ken, it’s time his story was invented and then told. I actually have a Ken doll – he’s part of Star Trek Barbie. She’s dressed as as Uhura and he’s Captain Kirk (as if), probably the only time he outranks Barbie.

  24. EBS says:

    His line delivery when she asks him why he wants to stay over and he says, “I’m not sure” is absolute comedy gold. I never thought much about him before but I think this casting is genius.

  25. j.ferber says:

    Eurydice, the beauty of Ken is he doesn’t HAVE a story and it doesn’t need to be told. Barbie is the alpha here, so let Ken take a back seat to her (too damn many men thinking women should take the back seat for them). Ken is a proud beta. Let him be that. I also used to have a Barbie and Ken Star Trek, but Barbie was not Uhura. I’d have loved to have yours instead.

    • Eurydice says:

      @j.ferber – that was kind of my point. In order for Ken to even have a story someone would have to invent it first. I had to laugh at the image of Ken face down in the mud next to the squashed lemons. That doesn’t read proud beta – it reads insignificant expendable, like “Guy” in Galaxy Quest, the guy in the red shirt who always got killed.

  26. MsGnomer says:

    I was a Barbie enthusiast in the 70s. Given my level of commitment to my Barbie in childhood I thought a Barbie movie was not a great idea, but Gosling’s performances and choices always surprise me. I think I will laugh out loud and have a good time watching this. Hope so.

  27. Well Wisher says:

    Ryan Gosling is so right about the hashtag….
    Just something for some unhappy person to whinge about.

  28. Maeve says:

    Whenever he’s on Graeme Norton he always comes across as being a really decent, thoughtful guy, and very appreciative of what he does. And of course he was co-star of The Greatest Interview Ever with Harrison Ford, in which the were both completely overcome by the wonder that is Alison Hammond.

  29. Cletly says:

    Honestly, he really convinced me to see it!! I loved the Ryan of my youth and teenage years, he was goofy and I am not a particular fan of serious Ryan.

    I also am not a Greta Gerwig fan at all so I was willing to overlook it but yeah, I simply cannot pass on that.

  30. Nicegirl says:

    💕 🏖️

  31. j.ferber says:

    Eurydice, yes, I get you now. Love it. The guy in the red shirt. All the way.

  32. Christine says:

    “Just, like, the guy that was putting on Hammer pants and dancing at the mall and smelling like Drakkar Noir and Aqua Net-ing bangs.”

    Ryan Gosling, who I’ve never cared about before now, has made this the must see movie, for all Gen-Xers. We ALLLLLL know the scent of Drakkar Noir and Aqua Net, and want to see Ken in Hammer pants.

    I feel like I owe an apology to all the people who tried to convince me I would love whatever Ryan Gosling movie was coming out. I get it now!