Arts & Entertainment

Robbie: Barbie movie a ‘huge opportunity’

London, Jul 18 (EFE).- Australian actor Margot Robbie not only plays the blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll in the upcoming “Barbie” movie – she is also the film’s producer, who with a keen eye for the project’s commercial potential, saw that something “amazing” could be made from the famous toy’s controversial story.

Robbie made sure that her company LuckyChap secured the film rights from toy manufacturer Mattel and booked Greta Gerwig to write the script and direct the movie.

“I didn’t know specifically what the story was going to be and knew that would be up to whoever wrote it and ultimately directed it,” Robbie tells Efe at a London hotel.

“I did know what we wanted to accomplish with the Barbie movie and I did feel it was just a huge opportunity. It’s just such a globally recognized name and it’s been an iconic and polarizing figure over the years and it just felt that if we could do right it would be amazing,” she adds.

Robbie says that she “couldn’t be happier” with the result of the movie which combines intricate costumes and exceptional performances that blend a tongue-in-cheek criticism of the patriarchal values that have long been associated with the doll with a captivating promotional push of the brand.

“Part of the reason I wanted Greta as our writer and director was because I knew she would tackle all the issues but still deliver an entertaining experience and something with a lot of heart,” she says of the controversies surrounding the picture-perfect doll.

“If you poke fun at something and it is coming from a cynical place, that just didn’t feel like it was going to be right. Ultimately I wanted this experience to be joyful for audiences but in (Gerwig’s) movies, there’s so much emotion that it always feels like it is coming from a very personal and very loving place even though it is hitting on some hard and uncomfortable things,” Robbie continues.

Gerwig, who made Little Women (2019) and Lady Bird (2017), was Robbie’s first choice for the movie when she was putting together the team for the project.

“Genuinely I didn’t mind if I wasn’t going to act in the movie, but she (Gerwig) said ‘no, I want to write this for you’,” Robbie says.

She explains how as a child she was a “Barbie agnostic” but that the movie helped her appreciate what the Mattel brand achieved after launching the doll created in 1959 by Ruth Handler.

“To have a toy have that lasting popularity and to continually be important in cultural conversations, for good and bad reasons, I find that really fascinating,” she says.

“We of course wanted Mattel to be supportive of the film, but it wasn’t contingent on their approval. So we never had to push a certain agenda,” the actor says before adding that one of the most mocked elements in the movie is Mattel and one of its CEOs.

“They were incredible to let us do that. I can’t imagine any other huge corporation putting themselves out there like that,” she continues, before adding that “it’s coming from a place of love.”

Gerwig admits that when Robbie approached her, she wasn’t sure where the project would lead but decided to take it on with her “partner in life and in art,” Noah Baumbach.

“We were writing it during lockdown, and I think it was really born out of this isolation and sadness and also, nobody was going to the movies,” Gerwig tells EFE.

“And at that time, it felt like, ‘well, maybe let’s write something outrageous and crazy because who knows if we will get back to the movie theaters again,’” the filmmaker adds.

“The thing that makes me the most satisfied, and I’ve had the opportunity to do it at test screenings and now with the premier in LA, is watching a room full of people in the dark laugh and cry together,” she says.

Gerwig recalls how as a child she had many “hand-me-down” Barbies from other children in the neighborhood because her mother was not a fan of the doll, although “she finally relented.”

The Barbie movie also showcases how the world and society have “shifted and changed” to offer a more inclusive representation of women, American-Honduran actress America Ferrera who plays Gloria, a Mattel employee, tells Efe.

“Growing up I never saw myself reflected in the Barbie world, it was just, kind of, out of reach,” Ferrera says.

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