“I think I told them that it’d make a billion dollars, which maybe I was overselling, but we had a movie to make, OK?” Robbie, 33, told Collider of convincing Mattel and Warner Bros. to both approve the script and give her creative control over the film.
Robbie — who serves as both executive producer and stars in the film as the iconic doll – added that her pitch to green-light the comedy also involved comparing it to some of cinema’s biggest blockbusters.
“Studios have prospered so much when they’re brave enough to pair a big idea with a visionary director,” Robbie continued in an interview published on Thursday, July 20. “And then I gave a series of examples like, ‘Dinosaurs and [Steven] Spielberg‘ – pretty much naming anything that’s been incredible and made a ton of money for the studios over the years. And I was like, ‘And now you’ve got Barbie and Greta Gerwig.”
Initially, Barbie was set to be helmed by screenwriter Diablo Cody with Amy Schumer in the lead role. However, Cody, 45, eventually departed the project after being unable to connect with the iteration in a meaningful way.
“I never even produced an initial draft. I failed so hard at that project. I was literally incapable of writing a Barbie script. God knows I tried,” she told Screen Crush in 2018. “To be honest, the timeline coincided with my writing Tully. I was really overwhelmed at the time, and I think I was really only capable of reaching in and pulling out something super personal. Look, I think the idea of a Barbie movie is super f–king cool and I hope something goes in there and kills it.”
After Schumer also dropped out citing scheduling conflicts – which she later revealed were really creative differences – Robbie took on the project with Gerwig and her partner, Noah Baumbach, who agreed to both direct and pen the script.
Prior to the release of the movie, which premieres on Friday, July 21, Robbie opened up about why she was afraid no studio would allow her to execute her specific vision.
“I was very scared it was going to be a no. At the time this was such a terrifying thing to take on. People were like, You’re going to do what?” she revealed to Vogue in May of her production company, LuckyChap, first approaching Mattel about the project.
Robbie noted that at the time, there wasn’t a set concept in mind. “We of course would want to honor the 60-year legacy that this brand has. But we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of people who aren’t fans of Barbie. And in fact, aren’t just indifferent to Barbie. They actively hate Barbie. And have a real issue with Barbie. We need to find a way to acknowledge that,” she explained.
Eventually, both Warner Bros. and Mattel greenlit the concept and Robbie stepped into the pink high heels. Will Ferrell, Dua Lipa, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera, Michael Cera, Issa Rae and Simu Liu also joined the cast and Robbie and Gerwig nabbed their dream Ken — Ryan Gosling.
“I saw that video [of Ryan stopping a NYC street fight] and thought he must be a great guy. And Ken needs to be played by a good guy because you are gonna be directed by a female director and some movie stars might not be cool with that,” Robbie told Gosling, 42, during an interview with India Today earlier this month, adding, “You must be secure in your masculinity to go on the Barbie ride the way Ryan did.”