‘This Could Be Just Terrible, But Now I’m Committed’: The Story Behind How Barbie’s ‘I’m Just Ken’ Dance Sequence Came About

Ncuti Gatwa Ryan Gosling in Barbie

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is the biggest movie of the year. One of the most talked about parts of that movie is almost the big song and dance number “I’m Just Ken.” The movie (which is not a musical) stops for a moment and becomes something completely incredible when Ryan Gosling begins to sing. Even Gerwig knew at the time that the scene might have gone horribly wrong, but she believed it could be something great. 

Speaking at the London Film Festival (via Variety) Greta Gerwig spoke about her billion-dollar Barbie, including the film’s infamous song. Apparently, it wasn’t until production that it was entirely hashed out what exactly would be happening on the screen.

How Greta Gerwig Conceived The Dance Sequence 

Greta Gerwig explained that the initial script for Barbie she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach, just described what started off as a fight between two factions in Barbieworld and became a “dream ballet,” but exactly what the script meant was open for interpretation. A lot of people didn’t seem to understand, and even questioned if the scene was needed, but Gerwig fought for it. She said…

It just said in the script, ‘And then it becomes a dream ballet and they work it out through dance.’ There was a big meeting that was like, ‘Do you need this?’ And I was like, ‘Everything in me needs this.’ They were like, ‘What do you even mean? What is a dream ballet?’ And I was like, ‘A dream ballet? Where do I begin!’

Greta Gerwig clearly had an idea of what it was she was trying to create. She says she used Singin’ in the Rain as an inspiration as the film had a similar sequence to what she was going for. That gave her some confidence that the scene would work, but she says she knew there was a possibility that the audience wouldn’t go along with her, and if that happened, it was all going to fall very flat. Gerwig continued… 

I was like, if people could follow that in Singing in the Rain, I think we’ll be fine. I think people will know what this is. So that was the big reference point. Even though everything felt right to me and was giving me so much joy in the way we were doing it, it was also like, ‘Oh no, this could be just terrible, but now I’m committed.’

Clearly, Geta Gerwig was right. Not only did the scene work, but “I’m Just Ken” became a massive hit. However, a big part of what people love about the “dance battle” sequence is the song itself, and we know that Barbie could have handled the “I’m Just Ken” very differently.

How The “I’m Just Ken”  Song Could Have Been Very Different 

While the idea of a fight scene being worked out through dance was part of the script originally, it seems the song “I’m Just Ken” wasn’t always part of that. Soundtrack producer Mark Ronson has previously said that while the song was always part of the movie, it wasn’t specifically part of the “dream ballet” but it was eventually decided that’s where the song needed to be. Ronson said…

It went from being this song that was maybe gonna be played somewhere in the film, to this song that they built this sort of epic battle around. … I instantly knew what The Ken Song should be. Greta’s like, ‘We love that song. Actually could you make it longer?’ So we were essentially scoring like 11 minutes just around the Ken song.

Barbie clearly went all in on “I’m Just Ken” and the good news is the scene worked in a big way. Barbie likely still would have been a massive hit without it, but the song made the movie become a viral social media hit as well, which may have driven a lot of people to the theater to experience it.  Many expect to hear “I’m Just Ken” at the Academy Awards, and it may not be the only major Oscar Barbie is in competition for. 


What do you think?

1.2k Points
Upvote Downvote

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *