How Ryan Gosling’s Iconic ‘I’m Just Ken’ Role and Tribute to Marilyn Monroe Came to Be

Ryan Gosling’s performance of the “Barbie” track “I’m Just Ken” at a prestigious award show became an iconic moment, thanks to an elaborate setup that included a 40-piece orchestra, 62 dancing Kens, and over 24 massive Barbie heads, among other elements. This spectacle, enhanced by a surprise appearance from Guns N’ Roses, solidified its place in the annals of award show history.

The buzz around Gosling’s potential performance of “I’m Just Ken” at the Oscars had been building for some time. Confirmation finally came in late February, revealing that discussions with Gosling had been ongoing for months. The production team, including Molly McNearney, Raj Kapoor, Katy Mullan, and Rob Paine, along with creative input from Greta Gerwig, had been meticulously planning this performance. Renowned choreographer Mandy Moore and music producer Mark Ronson were integral to the creative process, emphasizing Gosling’s commitment to the performance.

The inspiration for the performance was a nod to the classic “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” an idea that was Gosling’s own. This influence was evident in the visual choices, including Gosling’s pink suit against a backdrop of performers in black, and a creative twist on the iconic candelabra girls, reimagined as “Ken-delabra men.”

Gosling’s hands-on approach in crafting the performance was highlighted by Moore, who shared insights into his vision for the sequence. He aimed for a dynamic presentation that would culminate in a grand celebration, featuring an array of Kens and a special reveal of guitarist Slash.

The goal was to create an immersive experience, encouraging audience participation. This vision was shared by Gosling and Gerwig, leading to an interactive performance that engaged not just the audience in the theater but also viewers at home.

Gosling’s attention to detail extended to personal interactions during the performance, including a planned moment with Emma Stone, adding a layer of authenticity and connection to the spectacle. The performance was a culmination of weeks of rehearsal, with Gosling and the team working tirelessly to perfect every aspect, from vocals to choreography.

As the performance unfolded, it became clear that this was more than just a musical number; it was a celebration of creativity, collaboration, and entertainment. The inclusion of cameo appearances by actors from the original “Barbie” movie added to the spectacle, showcasing the collective effort behind this memorable moment.

Reflecting on the performance, Gosling’s concern for its execution and the audience’s reaction underscored his dedication to his craft. The overwhelming positive response confirmed the success of “I’m Just Ken,” marking it as a highlight of the evening and a testament to the power of performance art.