Greta Gerwig found a muse in Barbie before signing on to write and direct the Warner Bros. film, produced by lead star Margot Robbie.
Oscar nominee Gerwig penned a poem inspired by Apostle’s ‘Creed’ in addition to a treatment with partner Noah Baumbach to land the project, Robbie revealed in a Vogue cover story.
“Greta wrote an abstract poem about Barbie,” Robbie said. “And when I say ‘abstract,’ I mean it was super abstract.”
“Little Women” director Gerwig only added that the poem “shares some similarities with the Apostles’ ‘Creed,'” and no one from Mattel, Robbie’s LuckyChap production banner, or Warner Bros. read any part of the script until it was completed.
Robbie noted that it was important for Gerwig and co-writer Baumbach to have complete creative freedom when crafting the “genius” script for “Barbie,” yet, “At the same time, we’ve got two very nervous ginormous companies, Warner Bros. and Mattel, being like: ‘What’s their plan? What are they going to do? What’s it gonna be about? What’s she going to say?’ They have a bazillion questions.”
Robbie ensured that LuckyChap structured the deal so Gerwig and Baumbach could have an “open” creative process, “which is really fucking hard to do.” The “I, Tonya” actress added that Gerwig was “on that list for a long time” of directors she had been eyeing to work with in her career.
Writer-director Gerwig called the process of penning the script with Baumbach “literally imaginative play.” The film was inspired by old Technicolor musicals, with the cast screening films like “The Red Shoes” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” as part of “movie church” during production.
“They have such a high level of what we came to call authentic artificiality,” Gerwig said of what led to the “Techni-Barbie” aesthetic of the film. “You have a painted sky in a soundstage. Which is an illusion, but it’s also really there. The painted backdrop is really there. The tangibility of the artifice is something that we kept going back to.”
Robbie added of reading the script, “We just looked at each other, pure panic on our faces. We were like, ‘Holy fucking shit.’ I think the first thing I said to Tom was, ‘This is so genius. It is such a shame that we’re never going to be able to make this movie.'”
For all the details on “Barbie,” in theaters July 21, click here.