‘Barbie’ movie: A timeline of Ryan Gosling’s descent into Ken-sanity

‘Barbie’ movie: A timeline of Ryan Gosling’s descent into Ken-sanity

Feel the Ken-ergy.

With just days left to go until Greta Gerwig’s hotly-anticipated “Barbie” movie hits theaters, co-star Ryan Gosling has emerged as one of the film’s most effective — and lovably ludicrous — marketing tools.

From a string of eyebrow-raising statements to the press to the newly-released power ballad “I’m Just Ken,” where Barbie’s main squeeze contemplates his possible tragic “destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility,” the two-time Oscar nominee appears to have very nearly gone full method in his attempts to promote the role.

That, or he’s just getting more than a little punchy as the film’s seemingly endless publicity campaign comes to a close.

Either way, we’re loving the ride.

What follows is a rough timeline of Gosling’s journey from seemingly normal human person into the role he was very apparently born to play.

Gosling poses on the pink carpet in a pink suit.
Gosling has been promoting ‘Barbie’ for a year now, even before official marketing for the movie began.
Getty Images

July 2022: Welcome aboard the Ken-terprise

Ryan Gosling sits on a bed, shirtless, while singing his song "I'm Just Ken."
Gosling sings “I’m Just Ken” for the film, a power ballad about Ken’s feelings of inadequacy when his reliance on Barbie is thrown into uncertainty.
Warner Bros.

You may remember — no, you must remember — this time last year, when the first photos from the set of “Barbie” leaked to show Ryan Gosling’s Ken and Margot Robbie’s Barbie in head-to-toe neon while rollerblading in Venice Beach.

The photos caused such a buzz that, even though Gosling was promoting a totally different film, he addressed “Barbie” publicly for the first time.

“I can’t wait for people to see the film,” Gosling told Entertainment Tonight. “That’s all I can say, otherwise Mattel will come in and box me up.”

Historians may note that this interview also marks the first known usage of the term “Ken-ergy.”

Referencing a joke from ‘The Grey Man’ — the Netflix thriller he was supposed to be promoting at the time — where Gosling’s co-star makes a dig about his “Ken doll” looks, Gosling ruminated: “I have that Ken-ergy that you can feel, obviously.”

July 2022: Are you Ken-tertained?

Ken holds a silver wineglass and looks vaguely upset about something.
Gosling was worried that Mattel would “box [him] up” if he revealed too many details about his role as Ken before the film’s release.
Warner Bros.

While a guest on The Tonight Show last year, Gosling told Jimmy Fallon that his own daughters’ treatment of Barbie’s oft-overlooked male accessory served as inspiration when deciding whether or not to take the role in the film.

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“You know where I found Ken, Jimmy?” Gosling asked Fallon. “Face-down in the mud, next to a squished lemon. I texted Greta and I said: ‘I shall be your Ken, for his story must be told.’”

“I was surprised how some people were kind of clutching their pearls about my Ken as though they ever thought about Ken for a second before this,” he told Fallon.

“They never played with Ken,” Gosling continued. “Nobody plays with Ken. Did you play with Ken?”

April 2023: Like a Ken doll in the wind

Ken wears a denim vest and smiles at an off-screen Barbie.
“It was like I was living my life and then one day I was bleaching my hair, shaving my legs, and wearing bespoke neon outfits and Rollerblading down Venice Beach,” Gosling said of his journey with the role.
Warner Bros.

After a significant Ken-tertainment drought, the April kick-off of the official ‘Barbie’ press tour had Gosling was firing on all cylinders as he discussed how Gerwig and Robbie “conjured” up the Ken-ergy.

“It was like I was living my life and then one day I was bleaching my hair, shaving my legs, and wearing bespoke neon outfits and Rollerblading down Venice Beach,” Gosling said.

“It came on like a light scarlet fever,” the actor continued. “Then I woke up one day and was like, ‘Why is there fake tanner in my sheets? What just happened?”

May 2023: He’s a Ken’s rights activist

Gosling and Robbie attend CinemaCon in April 2023, with Gosling wearing a shirt shouting out director Greta Gerwig.
Gosling and Robbie attend CinemaCon in April 2023, with Gosling wearing a shirt shouting out director Greta Gerwig.

Gosling’s GQ cover shows the actor tan and blond, resplendent in a pink button down paired with a fringe jacket, smizing at the camera. So far so good — and then the interview begins.

“Ken,” Gosling moaned. “His job is beach. For 60 years, his job has been beach. What the f*ck does that even mean?”

Gosling quickly returns to the topic of the pearl-clutching Ken haters, still weighing on his mind nearly a year later. Calling himself Ken’s “representative,” Gosling defended the doll against those who let his plastic gather dust — behavior that led Vanity Fair to refer to the actor as a “Ken’s Rights Activist.”

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“Suddenly it’s like, ‘No we’ve cared about Ken this whole time,’” he griped. “No, you didn’t. You never did. You never cared. Barbie never f*cked with Ken. That’s the point. If you cared about Ken, you would know nobody cared about Ken. So your hypocrisy is exposed.”

June 2023: Oh, Kenada!

A ‘Barbie’ press event on Gosling’s home turf — Canada — appears to have left the star feeling relaxed and ready to fully expose his inner Ken.

Gosling flashed his pearly whites launched into a string of revelations about his bleached-blond journey into Barbieland, retelling the story of finding Ken face-down in the mud.

Only this time, after picking up the discarded doll, he told reporters that he’d realized: “Suddenly I was that Ken doll. And it was Greta Gerwig who was playing with me, and the only way back to the human world was to obey her very specific directions. And now I’m back.”

Gosling also spoke truth to power about the disenfranchisement of Ken dolls everywhere.

“We [Kens] don’t have accommodations,” Gosling told the media. “Have you ever seen a Ken’s dream house? Isn’t that a laughable sentence? It’s Barbie’s dream house, I’m just looking for a van.”

July 2023: He’s on a Cinnabon roll

As the campaign reaches the home stretch, Gosling appears to have nearly gone fully Ken-sane. After co-star Robbie introduced herself politely at a Buzzfeed interview, Gosling managed to Ken it up royally.

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“I forgot already what I’m doing,” Ken’s vessel confessed.

Later on, Gosling finds a delicious way to describe how hard it has been to move on from the role.

“The Ken thing is tough,” he began. “It’s a bit like that Pilsbury Cinnabon mix, you know? Once you open that canister, it’s very hard to… once you open it, you’re making Cinnabons and you’re loving it.”

July 2023: Ken you feel the love tonight?

Ken wears a faux-mink coat and headband while singing "I'm Just Ken."
During the press junket, Gosling also told Entertainment Tonight, of leaving Ken behind: “I miss the headbands.”
Warner Bros.

“We’re still not sure what happens to the Kens when the Barbies go home,” Gosling told Entertainment Tonight during the final press scrum. “We think they huddle on the beach for warmth.”

When asked about the spray-tanning, shaving, waxing, and ab-defining that goes into being a Ken, Gosling protested that a Ken would never “discuss these things in front of Barbie.”

“Barbie doesn’t even know that these things happen and she doesn’t need to know,” Gosling said. “We talk about this in the Ken-dom.”

Speaking to another reporter, Gosling returned to his favorite subject when asked to define Ken-ergy.

“Very little is known about Ken-ergy,” the actor said, solemnly. “We don’t have the funding for research. We know that it’s real. In my case it came on as a rash and then it turned into a tan… So I don’t know. But hopefully with this film if the conversation starts we can start funding it and really finding out ‘What is Ken-ergy?’”

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