Mattel President Flew to London to Argue With Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig Over an Off-Brand ‘Barbie’ Scene: ‘The Nuance Isn’t There’ on the Page

Delve into the behind-the-scenes vision of Greta Gerwig's Barbie, a film that challenges conventional perspectives on the Barbie brand.

Barbie Driving her pink Corvette

A new cover story from Time magazine on the making of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie reveals that Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson flew to the movie’s London set at one point during production to argue with Gerwig and lead actor Margot Robbie about one scene he believed was off-brand for the company. The director and her star convinced Dickson to keep the scene in the film by performing it for him live on set.

“When you look on the page, the nuance isn’t there, the delivery isn’t there,” Robbie said.

While the scene in question was not disclosed, Dickson’s concern is further proof that the upcoming Barbie movie isn’t just a sanitized love letter to the famous doll. As the film’s trailer says point blank: “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you. If you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.”

When Robbie first met Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz in an attempt for her production company, LuckyChap, to secure the rights to the iconic doll, she told the executive that her idea for a Barbie movie included both on-brand and off-brand topics.

“In that very first meeting, we impressed upon Ynon we are going to honor the legacy of your brand, but if we don’t acknowledge certain things — if we don’t say it, someone else is going to say it,” Robbie said. “So you might as well be a part of that conversation.”

Part of the vision was ensuring that Robbie was not the only Barbie in the movie. Robbie has the stereotypical Barbie look, but the movie had to drive home the point that there’s no one way to be Barbie.

Margot Robbie in Barbie, the movie

“If [Mattel] hadn’t made that change to have a multiplicity of Barbies, I don’t think I would have wanted to attempt to make a Barbie film,” Robbie said. “I don’t think you should say, ‘This is the one version of what Barbie is, and that’s what women should aspire to be and look like and act like.’”

Barbie is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, and Ynon told Time that he is already excited about the possibility of “more Barbie movies.” Robbie, however, says not so fast.

“It could go a million different directions from this point,” Robbie said about the future of the “Barbie” movie franchise. “But I think you fall into a bit of a trap if you try and set up a first movie whilst also planning for sequels.”

Barbie opens in theaters nationwide July 21 from Warner Bros.

This piece was originally published by Variety and was written by Zach Sharf.

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