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Why Weird Barbie Looks So Familiar

Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" was the biggest hit of 2023, earning $1.4 billion at the box office and scoring multiple Oscar nominations. The film's memorable cast of characters includes a parade of Barbie dolls, most of whom appear as flawless as they were when they first came out of the box. One exception is the doll known as "Weird Barbie," who's experienced quite a bit of overzealous play. As a result, Weird Barbie has a wild, multicolored punk haircut and magic marker lines on her face to go along with the colored blotches on her bright pink dress. 

Weird Barbie is played by Kate McKinnon, who has dozens of film and television credits stretching back more than 20 years, most of them in the comedy genre. While Weird Barbie's look may appear haphazard to filmgoers, McKinnon told Good Morning America that her character's unique appearance actually took a bit of forethought to pull off. "A lot of discussions went into the placement of like, 'Where does the marker go on your face?' and 'What is the shape of the squiggle?' and 'How chopped is the hair?'" McKinnon said. "It's based on the Barbie that I think we all had where you'd cut the hair off and burn the clothes and draw on it," she continued.

McKinnon has proven herself to be a master of the comedy genre over the years, and her appearance in "Barbie" is no exception. If you're still wondering what projects she's popped up in over the years, we've got you covered. Here's a look at where you may have seen Kate McKinnon before.

Kate McKinnon got her start on The Big Gay Sketch Show

Kate McKinnon made her television debut in 2006 on Rosie O'Donnell's Logo TV variety program "The Big Gay Sketch Show" and appeared on 23 of the show's 25 episodes. "The Big Gay Sketch Show" was directed by Amanda Bearse, who played Marcy on "Married ... with Children" from 1987 through 1997, and also starred Julie Goldman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Nicol Paone ("Friendsgiving"). 

In his review of the show, Brian Lowry of Variety questioned whether the LGBTQ+ niche was large enough to shelter the program at the time. "With Rosie O'Donnell lending marquee value as an exec producer, this production for the modestly distributed gay cable net Logo rehashes the usual pop culture references," he wrote. He ultimately concluded that "The Big Gay Sketch Show" wasn't strong enough to stick around for long. He ended up being correct, as the show was never renewed after Season 3, which aired in 2010. Fortunately, McKinnon's days in sketch comedy were just getting started.

Kate McKinnon is best known for her time on Saturday Night Live

After "The Big Gay Sketch Show" ended its run, Kate McKinnon landed a coveted spot on "Saturday Night Live," where she made 206 appearances between 2012 and 2022. She returned to host in December 2023, and in April 2024, McKinnon reprised one of her favorite "SNL" bits, showing up alongside Ryan Gosling for a sequel their famous "Close Encounters" skit.

During her time on the show, McKinnon often appeared on "Weekend Update" alongside anchor Colin Jost. She also made multiple appearances in sketches as characters like beleaguered Russian villager Olya Pavlotsky, alien abductee Colleen Rafferty, and former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

While McKinnon's appearances as Clinton provided plenty of hilarious moments — including one sketch where McKinnon's Clinton is served a drink in a bar by Clinton herself — one of the most memorable moments in the history of "SNL" came after the 2016 election, when McKinnon delivered a moving rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as the former first lady. The following year on "The Tonight Show," Clinton told host Jimmy Fallon that she was deeply moved by McKinnon's performance of Cohen's classic ballad, which included a rarely-heard verse expressing the vocalist's inner hopefulness and resilience. "That was a tearjerker," Clinton said. "Kate McKinnon is actually a better me than I am. I wish I had her talent, she's just an amazing person."

McKinnon was nominated for 10 Emmy awards during her time on "SNL," winning best supporting actress statuettes in 2016 and 2017.

Kate McKinnon starred in the 2014 comedy Balls Out

During her 10-year run on "Saturday Night Live," Kate McKinnon began to build her film resume as well. Her first widely released feature was the 2014 raunchy college comedy "Balls Out," which also starred Jake Lacy and Nikki Reed. Its lowbrow title aside, the film actually got decent reviews from critics, bringing home a respectable 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and making it one of McKinnon's best movies

Here, the comedian plays Vicky, who's run out of patience with her boyfriend, Caleb (Lacy), and proposes to him as they near the end of their college years. Caleb takes one last grasp at his flag football glory days, re-forming his old team, the Panthers, for one last clash with their old rival, the Titans. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the film cleverly parodied boilerplate sports films, including a cheesy inspirational speech from Caleb to rally his teammates.

Following her main role in "Balls Out," McKinnon landed supporting roles in several other comedy films, including as Sam in 2015's "Sisters," which starred Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and as Jandice in 2016's "Masterminds," opposite "SNL" castmates Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig.

Kate McKinnon starred in the 2016 Ghostbusters remake

Kate McKinnon's next major film role was in the 2016 remake of "Ghostbusters," starring alongside Melissa McCarthy and fellow "SNL" alumni Leslie Jones and Kristen Wiig. McKinnon plays physicist Jillian Holtzmann, who designs and builds all her team's equipment. While it's not the best movie in the "Ghostbusters" franchise, the 2016 horror-comedy definitely has its charms, largely thanks to its talented cast.

Speaking about her turn in the film, McKinnon told The New York Times that while she had a keen interest in science, there was one key limitation that would prevent her from coming anywhere near her character's career path. "I've been a big astrophysics nut since I was 12," McKinnon said, "I have always had a real soft spot for the bizarreness of quantum mechanics. But I gave up on being a scientist in high school — I'm just not that good at math. I will never be a theoretical physicist."

After "Ghostbusters," McKinnon starred alongside Mila Kunis in the 2018 comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me." Here, Kunis and McKinnon play Audrey and Morgan, best friends and roommates who are drawn into an international espionage caper after Audrey's CIA agent boyfriend suddenly ends their relationship. The film received middling reviews, pulling in a 49% from critics and 58% from audiences at Rotten Tomatoes.

Kate McKinnon appeared alongside Margot Robbie in Bombshell

Kate McKinnon dipped outside the familiar comedy genre for her next project, appearing alongside her "Barbie" co-star Margot Robbie in the real-life tale "Bombshell," the 2019 docu-drama about the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News that led to the ousting of Roger Ailes as the network's CEO. McKinnon plays Jess Carr, who works on "The O'Reilly Factor" with Ailes accuser Kayla Pospisil (Robbie). Robbie and Charlize Theron earned Oscar nominations for their performances in "Bombshell," and the film won for best makeup and hairstyling.

That award-winning behind-the-scenes work actually prompted an off-the-cuff reaction from McKinnon that foreshadowed the current collaboration between her and Robbie. In response to a question from Nat Perez of Fandango about whether she had ever been called a "Barbie" in real life, Robbie told how during the filming of "Bombshell," McKinnon took a quick peek into a pink crystal ball. After Robbie emerged from the makeup trailer in preparation for a scene, McKinnon made an unscripted remark that actually made it into the film. 

"My character's just been revamped because she's about to do her first on-camera thing," Robbie recalled. "And I come out and she goes, 'Wow, anchor Barbie!'"