Mattel’s Notes for Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s ‘Barbie’ Script Included Asking Why an Executive Got Shot

Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach got away with a lot of bite-the-hand humor towards Mattel in their script for the blockbuster “Barbie” film. But the company still had a lot of questions about the script for their satirical comedy — including one scene where an exec of the company gets shot (non-lethally, of course).

Gerwig and Baumbach spoke about their process writing the script for the “Barbie” film during a Thursday Q&A with “Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. At the Q&A, the two spoke about the notes they received during their first submitted draft of the script. One note they received comes in the film’s final act, where the Kens of Barbieland compete in a beach battle. During the chaos, Will Ferrell’s fictional Mattel CEO arrives with his mob of male executives, one of which gets shot with a fake arrow in the fray.

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“There was a note when we first turned the script [in],” Baumbach said during the Q&A (via Variety). “On page 111: ‘Does a Mattel executive have to be shot?’ At the time we were like, that should just be on the ad!’

Despite this, Gerwig said they didn’t have to fight Mattel to keep the scene in. “All the notes had a question mark at the end,” she told Kushner. “It wasn’t like, ‘This has to happen.’ It was more, ‘But does he have to be?’”

She further added that the company’s CEO Ynon Kreiz “really did give us a tremendous amount of trust and freedom. There was a real, ‘If you say this is right, then let’s go.’”

This isn’t the first time Gerwig has revealed a quibble that Mattel originally had with the story of the $1.4 billion blockbuster film. In an interview with Time Magazine prior to the film’s Summer premiere, Gerwig recounted a story where the company’s COO and President Richard Dickson flew to the film’s London set in an effort to protest a scene where teenage Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) calls Barbie a fascist. Dickson believed the scene was “off-brand” for the company, but was convinced to keep it after Gerwig and star Margot Robbie acted it out for him on set.

Gerwig also shot down some other suggestions executives had for the movie. In an interview with Australian talk show “The Project,” she revealed executives asked if she would use CGI to artificially arch Robbie’s feet to resemble those of a Barbie doll, an idea she quickly nixed.

“There was a big discussion in the beginning,” Gerwig said. “Everyone said, ‘Are you going to CGI all the feet?’ And I thought, ‘Oh god, no! That’s terrifying! That’s a nightmare.’ Also Margot has the nicest feet. She has these beautiful dancer feet. She should just hang on to that bar and do it just like this.”

“Barbie,” starring Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is now available to rent on VOD platforms.

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