'We cried so much.' I asked Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig about Barbie's biggest scandals.

In an interesting plot twist, the mythology around the making of the Barbie movie has become just as compelling as the film's plot itself.

After what feels like a lifetime of character reveals, pink-tinged trailers, and a global press tour packed with the contents of Barbie's Dreamhouse wardrobe itself, the movie is finally being released in cinemas this week.  

Written and directed by Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig (who penned the script with fellow Oscar nominee, her partner Noah Baumbach) Barbie stars Margot Robbie as the stereotypical version of the iconic toy, who is happily living a dreamlike existence in Barbie Land. 

A world that is devoid of pesky things such as gravity, water, temperature or food, where every day for the Barbies is simply 'the best day ever'.

That is until Stereotypical Barbie begins to wonder about death and suddenly this perfect world begins to crumble ever so slightly (think bad hair days and, horror of horrors, flat feet) leaving Barbie no choice but to venture into the human world for the first time in order to set things right.

Barbie also stars Ryan Gosling as a lovelorn Ken who needs to find his own self-worth, America Ferrera as a human who becomes deeply entwined in Barbie's discovery of the real world, Issa Rae as Presidential Barbie and a slew of other stars embodying the many different Mattel dolls including Kate McKinnon, Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Sharon Rooney, Dua Lipa, Nicola Coughlan, Ana Cruz Kayne and Ritu Arya. 

Watch Mamamia's Head of Entertainment Laura Brodnik ask Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig about making Barbie.

Video Supplied. 

The mythology around the Barbie movie actually started long before Margot Robbie's name was attached to it as producer and star, with Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway both at different points in time attached to Barbie movies that never got off the ground. 

During the first day of the Australian Barbie press tour, Margot Robbie said that more than five years ago she became aware that the Barbie IP was still floating around and so her production company LuckyChap quickly pitched Mattel their version of what the movie could look like.

A movie that director Greta Gerwig then described as "bananas" and Margot, after reading Greta's initial script, has said many times that she doubted they'd ever be allowed to make it.

It's this specific train of thought that has become a subtle yet strong trend in every Barbie interview.

Along with stories about Margot fining people who didn't wear pink on set, how the now iconic foot scene was shot, Ryan Gosling needing a present every day, and the many hidden details placed around the set, the cast and creators have also been quietly setting Barbie up to be known as the one movie no one thought would ever get made. 

Stories of drama and dissent from the film's production quickly gained as much traction as Margot Robbie's Barbie looks, so when a story broke that the Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson flew to the movie’s London set at one point during filming to argue with Greta and Margot about a scene he didn't want to be placed in the movie, it quickly added smoke to the 'cursed movie' fire. 


Speaking to Mamamia during the Australian leg of their global press tour, Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig start laughing the moment the Mattel executive 'scandal' is mentioned. 

But then, just for a moment, Margot also quickly places her head in her hands, a sign that she's well aware just how much her every comment and reaction to this movie is being critiqued.

"The way you've said that makes it sound so dramatic," she said. "It makes it sound like someone was going to come and shut our movie down.”

Greta added in - “Yes, it sounds like someone made a call yelling ‘get me to the plane so I can shut down that picture!’

"They did say ‘we’re not sure about this line'," Margot continued. "But we had already set aside some time for a screening with them, so for any of these concerns we just said ‘well, we can talk about it then'.

“But I do like this more dramatic version of the story," she concluded. 

Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie, Issa Rae and America Ferrera on the Australian Barbie press tour. Image: Universal Pictures


It quickly became clear that while everyone has been busily discussing the movie's fashion, behind-the-scenes drama, and marketing strategy, the one story Margot and Greta want attached to their film has not yet been told.

And that's the fact that Barbie is not exactly the light comedy everyone has been expecting. Instead, they say they've tried to tell a much deeper story, one that has resulted in a surprising final act for the film, and also regularly forced people to break down in tears on set. 

“I wanted this movie to make people laugh so hard their stomachs would be hurting by the end of it," Greta told Mamamia. "But also my goal was that, when we get to the end of the movie, you are sitting there and saying to yourself ‘how come I'm weeping, when did this happen?’"

"Not because it’s tragic or anything," she continued. "There’s just a lot of heart to it. But yes, we did cry so hard on that set at times ourselves while we were filming, even our crew members would cry. 

Margot added  - “Yes, I remember when filming one of the end scenes even one of our grips, who is a man, started crying on set and said to me ‘you got me, you finally got me’ and I said ‘oh good, I've been trying to make you cry the entire time'. 


“It's true, these guys who were working on the set in England would be crying while watching us film," Greta said.

Margot said she has pushed hard against the idea that Barbie is a frivolous film, noting that she worked to ensure her character didn't come across as ditzy and that she and Greta crafted a layered world for the story they wanted to tell.

“There is a special way we’ve created things in Barbie, everything looks beautiful and surreal," Greta told Mamamia. ""Everybody on the set who is a Barbie is also a dancer.

“They were all cast very specifically,” she continued. “They obviously all dance in the movie, and even when they are all just standing together at the beach, they have this very 1950s musical look to them. They're very poised and very purposeful in their movements. So to me, it just feels like I know every single one of them so well. 

Margot agreed, adding “When you watch the movie it’s like everyone has springs in their feet, even if they're just delivering the mail.

“There are a lot of surprises to be had in Barbie," is the note Greta ended our interview on and that certainly appears to be true.

Barbie releases in Australian cinemas Thursday, July 20.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Getty. 

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