Will Ferrell, Who Plays a Mattel CEO in ‘Barbie,’ Praises Film as the ‘Ultimate Example of High Art and Low Art’

Ferrell said the film is a satire of "why Barbie’s criticized and yet why every little girl still wants to play with Barbie."
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Will Ferrell attends the premiere of "Downhill" at SVA Theater on February 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/WireImage)
Will Ferrell

Surely the most talked-about — and photographed — movie of next year is Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” Opening on July 21, 2023, the splashy live-action imagining of the iconic Mattel doll stars Margot Robbie in the title role, along with Ryan Gosling as Ken, Simu Liu as another Ken, plus the likes of Kate McKinnon, Ncuti Gatwa, America Ferrera, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emerald Fennell, Hari Nef, and, yes, Will Ferrell as a fictional Mattel CEO.

While Warner Bros., writer-director Gerwig, and co-writer Noah Baumbach have all been tight-lipped about the film’s plot, a new WSJ. Magazine interview with Ferrell offered some glimpse into who his character is, and what kind of movie we’re dealing with. Namely, it’s a mix of high and low art, which is to be expected when you the director of “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” tackles a popular toy property.

“It is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate example of high art and low art,” Ferrell said about the film. “It’s a loving homage to the brand and, at the same time, couldn’t be more satirical — just an amazing comment on male patriarchy and women in society and why Barbie’s criticized and yet why every little girl still wants to play with Barbie. Boy, when I read it, I was like, ‘This is fantastic.’”

As for his CEO character, Ferrell said he might be just a bit problematic: “I get to play the CEO of Mattel and be that guy who’s just insensitive but weird and then, not to spoil anything, but…. Anyway, that’s what excites me.”

Recently, director Gerwig assured fans that despite the many set leaks from the “Barbie” shoot in California, we’ve hardly seen anything yet in terms of Ryan Gosling’s Ken looks.

“I really, I couldn’t say, but it’s a lot — it’s a lot, it’s a lot,” Gerwig said of Ken’s many outfits in the film.

Robbie also recently revealed that she was “mortified” by the set photos that went viral.

“I mean, I knew that we had some exteriors to shoot in L.A. I knew, OK, once you were doing exteriors, you’re gonna get papped,” Robbie said. “There’s probably going to be a little crowd of people who are going to stand out, because, you know, we stand out a little bit in those outfits. So I knew there was going to be a little bit of attention, and probably some photos would get out there, but not like it did. It was like mad. It was like hundreds of people watching.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.