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Barbie: Greta Gerwig Wanted Ryan Gosling To Play Ken Thanks To One SNL Sketch

Contains spoilers for "Barbie"

By now, we all know — as long as we've seen Greta Gerwig's "Barbie," that is — that Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken, has the "Kenergy" required for the role. Actually, you don't even necessarily need to have seen the movie, as his press tour that preceded the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike was pretty impressive, but watching him throw himself headfirst into a dream ballet or play Matchbox 20's "Push" at Barbie (Margot Robbie), complete with a Rob Thomas impression, is the icing on the cake. It's no surprise that Gerwig wanted Gosling for the movie, but the reason behind it might surprise you.

During an interview on the SmartLess podcast with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes, Gerwig revealed that she realized just how funny Gosling was thanks to his appearance alongside Alex Moffat's recurring "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update character "Guy Who Just Bought a Boat" in 2017 (Gosling joined him as "Guy Who Just Joined Soho House").

"You know those actors you can... just sort of feel that they know what's funny, and I always felt that about him," Gerwig told the hosts. "And then I'm a big fan of all of his SNLs, I always thought he was great on SNL... He did 'Guy That Just Got a Boat' on 'Weekend Update,' and it's so good."

Ryan Gosling has done great work on Saturday Night Live...

"We actually, in writing it, cast Ryan, like we wrote his name into the script and everything... and [Gosling's name] was everywhere," Gerwig continued, admitting she and partner and co-writer Noah Baumbach simply wrote the part for Gosling and just hoped for the best. "And then when we handed them the script, the studio was like 'Oh, it's so wonderful that you know Ryan.' And I was like, 'Oh, I don't know Ryan. I've never met Ryan, I have no idea.'"

Gerwig is right; Gosling's "Saturday Night Live" appearances have been uniformly excellent since his first-ever hosting gig in 2015. His second gig came in 2017 and brought that Weekend Update sketch with it, but real Gosling-heads (Geese?) know his two best sketches are "Papyrus" and "Santa Baby." In the former, a pre-taped sketch, Gosling's character has a full mental breakdown over the fact that "Avatar" uses the Papyrus font in its logo — and his future "Barbie" co-star Kate McKinnon pops up in that one as his concerned therapist. "Santa Baby" casts Gosling as a man who's entirely too excited about Santa, to perhaps a dangerous degree... as is his wife, an equally and delightfully deranged Vanessa Bayer. Both sketches highlight just how deeply Gosling commits to a bit, which is exactly what makes him so perfect in "Barbie" — so Gerwig was right to pay attention during his "Saturday Night Live" stints.

... but Barbie might be his best role yet

The reason Gosling is so uniquely great when he shows up on something like "Saturday Night Live" is, clearly, the guy is game for almost anything. Whether he just got into Soho House or he's holding an entire house hostage demanding that he be allowed to see Santa, Gosling commits to the bit with everything he has, and that's precisely the energy he brings to Barbie.

Robbie's Barbie is the main character of the movie, but every time Gosling appears on screen, he seriously threatens to steal the show away from her. At first, he's merely her accessory, there to remind her that she's right and to bask in her glow. When the two travel to the real world to unravel Barbie's sudden existential crisis, though, Ken discovers something fascinating: patriarchy. He's not quite sure if it's run by men, horses, or a combination of the two, but people treat him with respect, and he sure does like it. Before anyone can stop him, he's transformed the matriarchal Barbie Land into the strangest possible patriarchy, declaring himself in charge and plastering the place with horse paraphernalia.

Ultimately, Barbie helps him understand that this isn't the way to do things and that he needs to find himself, but the results in between are pretty amazing. (In a perfect conclusion, he admits that once he realized patriarchy had nothing to even do with horses, he lost interest.) Gosling gives everything he has to the role of Ken; Gerwig made the right call.

"Barbie" is in theaters now.