Barbie's Greta Gerwig And Noah Baumbach Explain Why They Needed To 'Protect' Their Movie, And I'm Overjoyed They Did

 Barbie smiling while wearing a cowgirl hat in Barbie.
Barbie smiling while wearing a cowgirl hat in Barbie.

Just like how the Barbies worked to protect and save Barbie Land, Barbie’s co-writers, Greta Gerwig – who also directed the film – and Noah Baumbach felt a need to “protect” their movie. Clearly, their drive to create the film they originally set out to make paid off. Barbie received rave reviews, dominated at the box office this summer and it’s a pop culture phenomenon. Now, the screenwriters have explained why they felt such a strong urge to create the lovely bright pink movie they had always intended to make, and I’m overjoyed that they did.

The screenwriters and directors spoke a lot about Barbie and their writing process during a Q&A with renowned screenwriter Tony Kushner. As they chatted at the Brooklyn Academy of Muisc, the partners talked about their urge to protect their movie (via People). Baumbach, who initially thought the comedy was a “terrible idea,” explained why he thought Gerwig had to direct it, saying:

There was a point where I was like, 'You have to direct it,' because we have to protect it. Because as we started to really enjoy [writing the movie], and really it was like we're totally mad, we were totally mad. We were, as many of us [were] in the pandemic, there was that isolation, so it kind of gave us this way of connection to a kind of future world where we hoped movies would be back and we'd all be back in a theater.

Clearly, Baumbach came around to Barbie, and he knew his partner had to helm it. However, he wasn’t the only one who felt this passionate about taking care of the movie. Greta Gerwig also explained that writing the film during the pandemic, when “no one was making movies,” gave them the opportunity to “go-for-broke,” and make the project of their dreams. The Little Women director said:

There was also a feeling of 'There's no movies, nobody's making anything.' So there was this sort of go-for-broke quality in how we did it. Then once we were doing it, we felt like, 'We love this — and also, definitely no one will ever let us make this.'

From throwing playful jabs at Mattel to working in an iconic musical number for the Kens to incorporating complex commentary on women, men and power, these two created a film no one expected. And it truly blew audiences away. Gerwig said they were able to do all this because there were no movies being made at the time, so they could work with an air of “fearlessness.” She elaborated on this point, saying:

That also gave us a level of protection and fearlessness because I think at one point we were like, 'Let's write the greatest script nobody can ever make or no one will ever let us make.’

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Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in Barbie
Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in Barbie

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I’m overjoyed that the Lady Bird writer/director and the Marriage Story writer/director approached this movie with “protection and fearlessness.” This Margot Robbie-led film is easily one of my favorites of the year, and it’s because of how unique and meaningful it is. I never thought I’d be able to see a movie that is so silly and colorful as well as deep and profound. But, we got it, and it was because of these two’s urge to “protect” it.

After Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach's movie came out, it made over $1 billion globally at the box office, and it broke records for Warner Bros. This unique and ultra-creative mega-hit from the 2023 movie schedule made me hopeful for the future of film. I hope more directors and writers are able to approach their projects with the same kind of protectiveness and fearlessness so we can get even more one-of-a-kind movies like Barbie.