Based on the famous fashion doll line by Mattel, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is already one of the most anticipated movies of 2023. For many people, Barbie holds a special place in their hearts, and fans can’t wait to see Gerwig’s take on the happy plastic world where the blonde icon and her dreamboat boyfriend Ken live. Put it down to nostalgia, or the allure of two hot celebrities (Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling) rocking outrageous costumes and having heaps of fun.


Barbie is the first live-action movie based on the doll, and the first to (presumably) not be aimed at children. News of the adaptation came in 2019, and after several pushbacks and changes in creative direction, it finally has a release date: July 21, 2023. Those involved have kept a very tight lid on revealing much about the movie, but there are some things we know for a fact. From plot to cast and crew, here’s what to expect from Gerwig’s next project (it’s fantastic!).

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Barbie stars Margot Robbie in the titular role and Ryan Gosling as her spray-tanned boyfriend Ken. The plot is still firmly under wraps, though the movie may follow a similar plotline to the originally planned adaptation. According to Deadline, before Warner Bros. won the rights to Barbie, the movie belonged to Sony, with Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway, at different points, set to play the lead role. The synopsis for the Sony project follows Barbie as she’s kicked out of Barbieland for not being perfect enough. She then finds her way into the real world, where she learns that beauty comes from within and happiness is to believe in oneself.

This story is compatible with what Gosling told Entertainment Weekly about his character Ken:

“Ken’s got no money, he’s got no job, he’s got no car, he’s got no house. He’s going through some stuff.”

Perhaps Ken was kicked out of Barbieland with Barbie, or else followed his girlfriend into the real world. Another rumor is that there will be multiple Barbies and Kens in the movie, and given that Margot Robbie’s lookalike Emma Mackey is part of the cast, we wouldn’t be surprised if this one was true.

Barbie‘s massive star-studded cast includes plenty of familiar names:

  • Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters, Bombshell)
  • Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Stepbrothers)
  • America Ferrerra (Ugly Betty, Superstore)
  • Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience, Shang-Chi)
  • Alexandra Shipp (tick, tick…BOOM!, Love Simon)
  • Michael Cera (Superbad, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
  • Issa Rae (Insecure, The Lovebirds)
  • Hari Nef (Transparent, Assassination Nation)
  • Kingsley Ben-Adir (The OA, High Fidelity)
  • Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War, Love and Monsters)
  • Rhea Perlman (Cheers, Matilda)
  • Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary, Dumbo)
  • Emerald Fennell (The Danish Girl, Promising Young Woman)
  • Scott Evans (The Lovely Bones, Grace and Frankie)
  • Ana Kayne (Little Women, Jerry & Marge Go Large)
  • Ritu Arya (The Umbrella Academy, Red Notice)
  • Marisa Abela (Cobra, Industry)
  • Jamie Demetriou (Fleabag, Cruella)
  • Connor Swindells (Sex Education, The Vanishing)
  • Emma Mackey ( Sex Education, Death on the Nile)
  • Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education, Doctor Who)

All of the above are in undisclosed roles, except for Will Ferrell, who plays a CEO of a toy company that may or may not be Mattel. And if rumours are to be believed, Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa will play other Kens, while Issa Rae and Hari Nef will play other Barbies.

Earlier this year, Dua Lipa reportedly joined the cast in an undisclosed role; the pop singer recently made her acting debut in the spy thriller Argylle. Unfortunately, Saoirse Ronan — who had lead roles in Gerwig’s Lady Bird and Little Women — won’t be making an appearance in Barbie due to scheduling conflicts. The actress told People she was gutted she couldn’t be in the movie, and that Gerwig had even written her the part of another Barbie.

Indie darling Greta Gerwig began her filmmaking career working and starring in several mumblecore movies, including LOL, Baghead, and Hannah Takes the Stairs. She gained mainstream attention after starring in the 2010 Ben Stiller Dramedy Greenberg, directed by her now-partner Noah Baumbach. In 2017, Gerwig made her directorial debut with the brilliant coming-of-age comedy-drama Lady Bird, which she also wrote the screenplay for. Two years later, she wrote and directed Little Women, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters. Both movies received Academy Award nominations: Lady Bird received five, including Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig, and Little Women received six, even winning Best Costume Design (awarded to Jacqueline Durran).

News that Gerwig’s third directed movie would be a Barbie adaptation came as quite a surprise to fans. Gerwig’s previous movies centre on flawed, ambitious young women, whose families face financial difficulty. Barbie, as we know her, doesn’t fit this pattern, and she’s hardly a feminist like Gerwig’s protagonists — in fact, the doll is often criticised as being anti-feminist. But that’s what makes the upcoming adaptation so exciting. Fans have no idea what to expect, and Gerwig is doing a good job of keeping it that way. However, we do know that she and Baumbach are co-writing Barbie, and Little Women‘s Jacqueline Durran and Alexandre Desplat will return as costume designer and composer, respectively. Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment is producing Barbie, alongside Robbie Brenner’s Mattel Films, and David Heyman’s Heyday Films.

Barbie is scheduled to be released on 21 July, 2023 by Warner Bros. Pictures. And it isn’t the only Mattel movie in the works. Mattel and MGM are developing a live-action Polly Pocket family comedy, written and directed by Lena Dunham and starring Lily Collins in the lead role. The two studios are also teaming up for a live-action movie based on the American Girl dolls.

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