Barbie Director Was Terrified Movie Could Be Career End

In recent years, Mattel has been trying to create a Barbie feature film from the ground up — first with writer and comedian Amy Schumer and later with writer/director Greta Gerwig. That version — co-written with Gerwig’s husband Noah Baumbach and starring The suicide squad‘s Margot Robbie, is slated for a 2023 theatrical release, but it wasn’t without reservations that Gerwig took the job. According to a new interview, the Little women filmmaker found the prospect “terrifying,” and was equally repelled and drawn to the idea that the film could be a “career-ender.”

It is not fear without at least some basis. Critics and public alike can be downright nasty about properties meant for girls and young women, especially when they’re unironically wrapped in glamor and bright colors, like Barbie seems to do. Just ask Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, who were in great demand after their feature film debut Can hardly waitbut have not directed another film since 2001 Josie and the kitties.

“It was terrifying,” Gerwig told Variety. “There’s something about starting from that place where it’s like ‘well, anything is possible’. It felt like I got giddy when I started writing it. Like, where do you even start? What would the story be?”

Unlike Warner Bros.’ The Lego movieit feels like that challenge is baked into the premise of Barbie. How do you make a movie that encapsulates everything important… about a property that is meant to be everything to all consumers? And that’s not just part of the character’s appeal – it’s ingrained in the film adaptation’s DNA.

“Playing with Barbie promotes confidence, curiosity and communication during a child’s journey of self-discovery,” Robbie said when announcing the film. “During the brand’s nearly 60 years of existence, Barbie has empowered children to imagine themselves in ambitious roles, from princess to president.”

That was apparently a good starting point for a filmmaker who likes to challenge himself.

“That feeling I had was that I knew it would be a really interesting terror,” Gerwig said. “Usually that’s where the best things are. That’s what I’m terrified of. Anything you think, ‘This could be career-ending,’ then you think, ‘OK, I probably should.'”

Barbie is expected in US cinemas on July 21, 2023.

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