How Ryan Gosling Masterfully Became Ken and Paid Tribute to Marilyn Monroe

Ryan Gosling’s performance of the “Barbie” track “I’m Just Ken” at a prestigious award show became an unforgettable spectacle, thanks to an elaborate setup that included a 40-piece orchestra, 62 dancing Kens, more than 24 enormous Barbie heads, four special appearance Kens, and an unexpected Guns N’ Roses cameo. This grandiose performance quickly cemented its place in the annals of award show history.

The buzz around whether Gosling would bring “I’m Just Ken” to the Oscars stage had been building for some time. Confirmation came in late February, revealing that discussions with Gosling had been ongoing for months, spearheaded by Oscars producers. Molly McNearney, alongside producers Raj Kapoor, Katy Mullan, and Rob Paine, shared insights into the early planning stages, highlighting Gosling’s professionalism and dedication. The creative input from director Greta Gerwig and the exceptional choreography by Mandy Moore, with music producer Mark Ronson also involved, underscored the collaborative effort behind the scenes.

Gosling envisioned the performance as a homage to the iconic “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” scene from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” This inspiration was evident in the visual choices, from the pink suit Gosling wore to the striking contrast of the ensemble in black, and even the creative nod to the candelabra girls with “Ken-delabra” men.

The actor played a pivotal role in crafting the performance, meticulously planning each movement to tell a captivating story. He aimed to start amidst the audience, make his way to the stage, and gradually build up to a grand finale that felt like Kens were emerging from every direction, culminating in a massive celebration.

Gosling and Gerwig shared a vision to energize the entire audience, making them an integral part of the performance. This goal was achieved by projecting the lyrics onscreen and leveraging Gosling’s charm to engage everyone in the moment.

The meticulous planning extended to every detail, including a consensual kiss with the cameraman, symbolizing a universal Ken camaraderie. This gesture, among others, showcased the thoughtfulness and depth Gosling brought to his portrayal of Ken.

Rehearsals for this ambitious number began about a month prior, with Gosling and the choreography team, led by Moore and her associate Gillian Myers, seeking to find the perfect “movement language” that would allow Gosling to sing, dance, and captivate the audience simultaneously.

As the performance day approached, the inclusion of “cameo Kens” from the original “Barbie” movie added another layer of excitement. Actors like Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, and Scott Evans joined the ensemble, adding to the spectacle’s grandeur.

The performance of “I’m Just Ken” was met with widespread acclaim, with many calling for Gosling to take the show on the road. The impact of the performance was profound, not just for the audience but for Gosling himself, who sought reassurance about the performance’s success backstage.

In the end, “I’m Just Ken” was more than just a performance; it was a moment of cinematic and musical magic that showcased Ryan Gosling’s multifaceted talent and the collective creativity of all involved.