Mark Ronson says Ryan Gosling's 'I'm Just Ken' flopped during the first screening of 'Barbie': 'The humour wasn't translating'

mark ronson
Mark Ronson, who executive produced the "Barbie" soundtrack.Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
  • Mark Ronson's song "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie" is nominated for best original song at the 2024 Oscars.

  • Ronson told The Times of London that it flopped during the first screening.

  • He said director Greta Gerwig fought studio executives to keep the song in the film.

Mark Ronson recalls panicking when his song "I'm Just Ken" fell flat during the first screening of "Barbie."

Ronson, 48, discussed the details in an interview with The Times of London published Sunday, mere hours before the 96th Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles at 7 p.m. ET.

Ryan Gosling as Ken in "Barbie."
Ryan Gosling as Ken in "Barbie."Warner Bros. Pictures

The power ballad Ronson wrote alongside Andrew Wyatt — which became the breakout hit of the summer — is nominated for best original song. The song appears during the film's climax when the Kens get into a battle at the beach. It's sung by Ryan Gosling, who plays the main Ken.

Ronson told the outlet that "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig asked him to write a few songs for the film.

"I thought, 'God, I hope we don't ruin it,'" he said. "At that first screening the song wasn't working. I panicked. The humour wasn't translating and Greta had to fight. The studio asked her how much she really needed it and she said, 'With every inch of my body.' And then there was a big swing."

Ryan Gosling is dressed as Ken in black sunglasses, a bandana, and a white fur coat as part of a scene of the "Barbie" movie.
Ryan Gosling in "Barbie."Warner Bros. Pictures

Ronson continued in the interview that he and Gerwig wanted the song to feel sincere despite the laughter the scene might receive.

"Ken is ridiculous," he told the outlet. "But Greta's point was that nobody should ever be laughing at a character. We feel their pain, as crazy as that sounds about a guy wearing a white mink and two pairs of sunglasses. I never wanted to write a song for a cheap laugh. You want something to get under people's skin."

He added that "I'm Just Ken" did more than entertain audiences, saying it's "helped young boys."

"My friend's eight-year-old got broken up with and he said, 'It's OK, because Ken got broken up with by Barbie.' The song tells boys that it's OK to be runner-up," Ronson said. "The internet's caused a level of isolation in boys and this idea of male camaraderie and sharing your feelings is a nice and unexpected thing to come out of it."

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling attends the European premiere of 'Barbie' at the Cineworld Leicester Square in London, United Kingdom on July 12, 2023.Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Although audiences fell in love with Ken and his eponymous song, it almost didn't make the cut until Gosling stepped in. Vanity Fair reported in July 2023 that Gosling loved "I'm Just Ken" so much that he requested to perform it for the film.

And on Sunday, Gosling will perform the song at the 2024 Oscars. A source told People that "spirits were high" during rehearsals before the big night.

"Ryan was in great spirits, and he was a total pro," they said. "He was joking around and having a great time."

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