The actor sat down with Variety for their latest cover story, where he opened up about Barbie‘s success and admitted that he’d be willing to perform his epic ballad from the movie at the upcoming Oscars — but hasn’t been asked yet.
“It might be too much of a risk to have me do it,” he says. “I don’t know how that would work. But I’m open to it.”
Gosling has maintained a sense of humor about his “Kenergy” from the beginning of Barbie‘s rise to box office glory last year, though he admitted in his new interview that playing Barbie’s beau was “the hardest role I’ve ever had to play.”
“In some way, everything I’ve done led to it. And I can’t believe I’m saying that,” he admits. “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,” he continues. “And I thought, ‘How am I feeling that on this film?”
In fact, Gosling initially said no to Barbie due to scheduling and life commitments. He took a few years off after his Oscar-nominated role in 2018’s First Man to spend more time at home with partner Eva Mendes and their daughters, Amada, 9, and Esmeralda, 7.
“I didn’t want to miss anything,” he says of the decision. “My priorities changed, and I wanted to be with my kids. It’s going super fast. I hear the clock ticking. I don’t know how much time I’m going to get, and I don’t want to spend it in the wrong place. I know I’m not spending it in the wrong place if I’m with my family.”
“I would call months later to my agents or something and say, ‘Hey, who did they get to play Ken?’ And they would say, ‘Greta says it’s you,'” he recalls. “Eventually, I thought, ‘Who am I to argue with Greta Gerwig and Margot?’ They had a vision for it. They believed it. And they believed I should do it more than I believed I shouldn’t. At a certain point, I thought, ‘They see something that I don’t see.’ I thought it was such a great part that anyone could play it. I understand now, but it took me a while.”
Gosling described the role as a “high-wire act—in tiny shorts and no shirt—with no net.”
“I was like, ‘I can’t mess this up. I can’t be the guy that messed up the Barbie movie. So if I’m going to do it, I have to do more than I know that I’m even capable of,'” he recalls.
The actor even bleached his hair for the part — after a screen test with a wig that he said “wasn’t Ken.”
“I thought, ‘Ken is Single White Female-ing Barbie.’ So he would try to dye his hair, even though he can’t dye his hair,” he reasoned. “I thought, ‘I should bleach my hair, but it should be an off version of hers.’ What was weird was I ended up looking like I did at 8 or 12, which was the era I was revisiting anyway.”
Ultimately, the hard work and physical transformation paid off. Gosling earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the upcoming 96th Academy Awards — one of Barbie‘s eight nods. However, the moment was perhaps slightly overshadowed by Robbie and Gerwig being snubbed in the Best Actress and Best Director categories, respectively.
While Robbie is nominated as a producer of the film in the Best Picture category and Gerwig secured a Best Adapted Screenplay nod with writing partner and husband Noah Baumbach, the pair’s lack of recognition in the major categories seems particularly egregious given the fact that Barbie was both critically-acclaimed and went on to become the highest-grossing film ever from a female filmmaker at the domestic box office, as well as the top-earning worldwide film of 2023, with nearly $1.5 billion to date.
“I think if I say any more about it, I’m going to basically put on a mink and start challenging people to a ‘beach-off’ on Malibu Beach,” Gosling says of Robbie and Gerwig’s snubs. “In terms of people’s reactions, the film continues to provoke conversation in every incarnation. It keeps provoking this dialogue. It’s the power of this movie.”
“I struggle to compare it to anything,” he adds. “But it’s yet another reason that proves it’s more than a summer blockbuster. It’s a great work of art. That’s what Greta and Margot created.”
Barbie is streaming now on Max.