Ryan Gosling as Ken has won over fans and critics but he had received a lot of right-wing backlash when the film's cast was revealed to the public.
Ryan Gosling has been making a spectacular comeback to cinema after a short hiatus with big-budget movies like "The Grey Man" and the recent blockbuster "Barbie." Under the direction of Greta Gerwig, Gosling transformed into Ken, the blonde companion of Barbie doll, played by Margot Robbie. However, the 42-year-old Gosling had left fans and critics divided over whether or not he was too old to play the role of Ken Doll. Despite being considered a heartthrob in Hollywood, Gosling was subjected to ageism over the internet.
Twitter users were raging over how the actor was unfit for the role when the first wave of casting announcements was revealed in 2022. Twitter user @milkjuulpod criticized and tweeted: "Why is Ryan Gosling Ken in the Barbie movie that's so sad that man is ancient." Some others wrote he was "too old and dry," whereas one person wondered if Gosling "needed some moisturizer." Sure enough, people wanted someone younger to play their ideal Ken doll, but Gerwig knew Gosling was the "perfect Ken" and fit for the film.
According to a GQ interview, the "Lady Bird" director defended the actor and said, "There's a quality to Ryan's acting, even when he's hilarious, it's never the actor standing outside of the role. He doesn't try and make you know that Ryan Gosling knows that this is silly. He does it in a way that takes on all of the humiliations of the character as his own."
When the "Barbie" script written by Gerwig and her husband Noah Baumbach in collaboration, it was offered to Gosling, the actor hailed it as "the best script he has ever read," as reported by Deadline.
However, Gosling wasn't sure about taking up the role before encountering an actual Ken doll lying face down in the mud next to a squished lemon in his backyard. He snapped a picture of that doll, sent it to Gerwig and wrote: "I shall be your Ken. For his story must be told."
While appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Gosling reacted to his first-look pictures as the iconic Ken doll. "I would say, you know, if people don't want to play with my Ken, there are many other Kens to play with. It is funny, this kind of clutching-your-pearls idea of, like, #notmyken. Like you ever thought about Ken before this?" he said while referring to the negative criticism he received.
Gosling has kept his "Kenergy" alive even while promoting the film in numerous interviews. Winning over the studio audience while appearing for a chat with Good Morning America, Gosling drew some links between his Ken doll character and George Lucas' "Star Wars" franchise as well. "It's hard. A lot of people don't know this, but George Lucas based The Force on Kenergy. It's always been there. I can't even get into it really. We don't have the time. It's a lot to be Ken, but we need to talk about Ken at some point," he joked.
Further in his GQ interview, Gosling addressed his brief hiatus from the film industry after having his second child with his partner Eva Mendes. "I treat it more like work now and not like it's, you know, therapy," he said. "It's a job, and I think in a way that allows me to be better at it because there's less interference," Gosling said about his change of attitude toward his job. "Barbie" was released worldwide on July 21, 2023, and is currently playing in theaters.