Receiving an Oscar nomination for playing an iconic Mattel toy might not have been on Ryan Gosling’s career bingo card a few years ago, but his performance as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” has nevertheless turned into one of the most acclaimed roles in his filmography. By turning Ken into a himbo undergoing an identity crisis, Gosling managed to provide some of the film’s funniest moments while serving as a key piece of its emotional core.
Finding all of that in a famously neglected doll was no easy task, so Gosling looked to his own life story for inspiration. In a recent interview with Variety, Gosling explained that his background as a child actor helped him find common ground with Ken. He said that he could relate to the experience of trying on different looks and personalities on the quest to finding your true self — and pointed out that he even wore a certain rodent costume on “The Mickey Mouse Club” to drive the point home.
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“I was a hamster in ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ just to figure it out,” Gosling said. “And all these ridiculous things. I could relate to Ken and the need to find yourself and distinguish yourself.”
But while Gosling was eventually able to tap into his past to put his own spin on Ken, relating to the character was not always easy. In another recent interview with W magazine, Gosling said that embodying such a well known yet ill-defined character was the hardest task of his acting career.
“It was the title page of the script, which said ‘Barbie and Ken,’ but ‘and Ken’ was scratched out,” Gosling said when asked about his first impressions of Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s “Barbie” script. “And the next impression was, this is the hardest part I’ll ever play. How do you approach playing a 70-year-old crotchless doll? There’s no research you can do for that. There’s no one you can shadow, no documentaries you can watch, no books written about Ken. You’re on your own.”
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