America Ferrera’s husband got his Barbie role because he was also using Duolingo

There has been some really fun casting gossip to come out about Barbie. For instance, John Cena landed his cameo as Mermaid Ken because he just so happened to be filming a different movie at the same studio as Barbie and when he ran into Margot Robbie at a restaurant, she asked him if he wanted to come play on set for a day. We found out that Dan Levy, Bowen Yang, Ben Platt, and Matt Bomer all had to turn down roles as Ken while Jonathan Groff reluctantly passed on Allan. We also learned that Gerwig was disappointed that Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan were both unavailable to make “speciality cameos.” But one really fun bit of casting that we hadn’t heard the story behind until now was that of America Ferrera’s husband, Ryan Piers Williams. Williams plays the husband of Ferrera’s character, Gloria. He makes a couple of brief appearances as a part of a movielong joke about him being too busy practicing Spanish via Duolingo to notice that Gloria and their daughter Sasha have disappeared into Barbie Land. Turns out, this was merely a very coincidental case of art imitating life.

“We didn’t tell anybody, any of our friends or family,” Ferrera, 39, says of her husband’s cheeky cameo in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. And it all started with an early call she had with Barbie director and co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig.

“It came about because on my first zoom with Greta. I was telling her all my favorite parts of the script and all the parts that made me laugh out loud,” Ferrera recalls. “And I said, “Oh my God, I laughed so hard when you cut to the dad doing his Spanish lessons, because my husband was literally in the other room doing his Spanish lessons.”

Ferrera continues: “Right away she was like, “Oh my God, does he want to play your husband?” And I was like, “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.” Fast forward to when they were closer to the shoot, Gerwig hadn’t forgotten about the idea. “When it came time, she was like, “Remember when I asked you if your husband would play your husband?” And he said yes,” says Ferrera. “So it was really fun and it did, it made it a family affair and it was great.”

[From People]

I freaking love this little tidbit! It’s a really funny coincidence. I’m glad Greta saw the humor in it as well and ended up casting Williams because this background info makes the husband/dad character all the more fun. America and Ryan both ended up moving to the UK with their children while Barbie was being filmed, which makes sense since they’re both so young (currently ages five and three) and because the production reportedly had strict Covid rules that required everyone in the cast and crew to live in the UK during the three months of filming. I’m really glad America shared this story because now it will forever be a part of Barbie movie lore.

Photos credit: Jeffrey Mayer/Avalon, Lumeimages/ImageBROKER/Avalon, Roger Wong/INSTARimages, Sara De Boer/

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6 Responses to “America Ferrera’s husband got his Barbie role because he was also using Duolingo”

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  1. JanetDR says:

    That’s a cute story! Everything around the Barbie movie seems so cool.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Yessssssss! Such a fun story. He directed her in a movie in 2010? They married in 2011? Love that Greta recognized the truthiness of the situation and chose to implement it.

  2. Luna says:

    Love this!

  3. Macky says:

    I thought he was one of the snl- saturday night live- guys.

  4. VilleRose says:

    Aww! I just recently rewatched Barbie again and I had no idea the so into his Duolingo Spanish lessons husband in the movie was her real life husband! What a fun tidbit and how cute he was part of it.

  5. Libra says:

    America is a lovely lady. Boo to whomever talked her into this shiny two piece outfit that is not flattering.