“Barbie” co-casting directors Allison Jones and Lucy Bevan revealed to the MPA’s “The Credits” series that several wannabe Ken actors took off their shirts during the audition process thinking showing off their bodies was a total Ken move. Any actor auditioning for the role of Ken’s arch-rival Ken (a role that ultimately went to Simu Liu) auditioned with the now-beloved “beach off” fight scene.
“Those scenes were fun to audition,” Bevan said. “Some of the Kens would take off their T-shirts, and we were like, no, no, you don’t need to take off your T-shirt. But Simu [Liu] just nailed that [line] in the film.”
“The thing that Greta did always stress was that none of these people were sarcastic or winking at the camera. They were really Kens and Barbies,” Jones added.
“There were certain scenes we used to audition, and the fine line between the comedy and sincerity of those characters is a difficult balance,” Bevan continued.
The Ken roles in the film went to the likes of Ryan Gosling, Liu, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa and Kingsley Ben-Adir. The casting directors revealed last month that “Saturday Night Live” Emmy nominee Bowen Yang, “Schitt’s Creek” Emmy winner Dan Levy and “Dear Evan Hansen” Tony winner Ben Platt were all in the running to play versions of Ken in the film, but scheduling logistics prevented the castings from happening. Jonathan Groff also circled the role of Ken’s long-suffering friend Allan before Michael Cera landed the part.
“It’s rather a boring reason, actually,” Bevan reiterated to the MPA about why certain actors got dropped. “On a movie like this, it was a hugely ambitious shoot and a complicated schedule, and you can have brilliant ideas, and people’s availability either does or doesn’t work.”
“Barbie” is now playing in theaters nationwide from Warner Bros.