This Barbie has some secrets to spill.
Greta Gerwig's pinktastic Barbie movie quickly broke records—and that proverbial glass ceiling—by earning $155 million in the U.S. its first weekend, the most ever for a film directed by a woman. Plus, it scored 11 nominations at the 2024 Grammys, including four for Best Song Written for Visual Media. So it's no surprise fans have been buzzing over the movie's hilarious take on their beloved childhood doll (Margot Robbie), who reins in the patriarchy rodeo in Barbieland while sharing the message that even her sidekick Ken (Ryan Gosling) is "Kenough" as he is.
But hidden amongst the one-liners, satire and that girl-power monologue delivered by real world resident Gloria (America Ferrera) are Easter eggs about the toy's 60-year history, massive movie franchises and more pop culture references that you may have missed.
For starters, what's with that dramatic opening scene? Film Buff Barbie would recognize that it's nearly a shot-by-shot homage to the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, including the iconic song. (She'd also be able to Barbiesplain nods to The Wizard of Oz, Grease, the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and Zack Snyder's Justice League.)
It took a star-studded cast—with sea-prising cameos from Dua Lipa and John Cena—to prove that Barbie has more up her perfectly pressed sleeve than some Godfather jokes and girl power galore. The film assembled a huge crew of familiar faces from Bridgerton (Nicola Coughlan), Insecure (Issa Rae), Saturday Night Live (Kate McKinnon) and Sex Education (Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa and Connor Swindells)—yet, some popular actors ultimately didn't get to skate, bike and snowmobile their way through the portal into Barbieland.
And the film's casting director told Vanity Fair that Hamilton alum Jonathan Groff was originally supposed to appear as Ken's buddy Allan before backing out (and being replaced by Michael Cera). Others stars that almost embraced their Kenergy onscreen? Bowen Yang, Dan Levy and Ben Platt, who were all invited to play Ken dolls but, says casting director Allison Jones, were "really bummed" that they couldn't make it work.
Keep reading to uncover more secrets behind the Barbie movie—and its casting process—that will have you dancing the night away.
This story was first published on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at 12 a.m. PT.