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Why Dan Levy, Ben Platt, & Jonathan Groff Turned Down Roles In ‘Barbie’

How could you say no to Barbie Land?
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It’s hard to imagine the cinematic masterpiece that is Barbie turning out any differently than it did, largely thanks to its stellar cast of Kens, Barbies, and humans.

But according to the film’s casting director, that was very nearly the case.

It’s hard to imagine the Kens played by different actors. (Credit: Image: ‘Barbie’)

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Allison Jones revealed that several of her choices for the actors that play the variety of Ken dolls in Barbie Land had to pull out before filming even commenced.

Australian-born SNL star Bowen Yang, Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy, and Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt all bowed out of the project because they couldn’t commit to filming in London for three months, something that COVID constraints necessitated.

Dan Levy nearly portrayed one of the Kens. (Credit: Image: Getty)

“They were, I’m not kidding, really bummed they couldn’t do it,” Jones revealed of their near-casting.

Even more astonishingly, the part of weird Allan (aka the only non-Ken in Barbie Land) nearly went to someone other than Michael Cera who, if you’ve seen the film, is hard to imagine in a different role. 

Michael Cera plays Allan. (Credit: Image: ‘Barbie’)

Jones revealed broadway star Jonathan Groff was a frontrunner for the role, but also had to pull out due to logistics. 

“Dear, dear Jonathan Groff was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I can’t do Allan,’” she said. 

Jones, alongside co-casting director Lucy Bevan, also revealed what they were looking for in actors to fill the many Barbie roles.

“We needed actors who could get the fact that our Barbies only knew pleasant things,” Jones said, adding that the Barbies (and the actors who played them) needed to be “pure in thought and pure in emotion.”

“We needed actors who could get the fact that our Barbies only knew pleasant things,” (Credit: Image: ‘Barbie’)

To work out if potential actors fit the bill, director Greta Gerwig would often talk to them before even sharing the script, the duo revealed. 

“She really wanted to get to know them as people. That was very important to her. On the key Barbie and Ken roles, she got a very good idea of what an actor was like from talking to them,” Bevan said.

But one actor who was always on lock for their role was Ryan Gosling — and after watching the film, we can understand why.

Appearing on SiriusXM, Gerwig said she and co-creator (and lead actress) Margot Robbie “pretty much wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“We just kept bothering [him].

“Margot was like, ‘Is it weird if I go to his house?’ I was like, ‘Don’t go to his house. We’re just gonna stay put.’ Send a follow-up text.”

(Credit: Image: ‘Barbie’)

In the end, it was Robbie’s promise of gifts that got Gosling to sign onto the project. 

“In the end, I promised Ryan a present every day if he did the movie,” Margot said, adding, “and then when he did do the movie, I was like, ‘Oh, s***. I gotta get so many presents.’”

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