From refusing to use CGI for Margot Robbie’s viral tiptoe scene to making sure “Barbie” didn’t have “too many baby angel heads,” we can all thank Greta Gerwig and her keen directorial intuition for helping the newly released film stick the landing with fans worldwide.
And now we have yet another reason to salute Gerwig’s prowess.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Gerwig revealed that she had to fight for a scene in “Barbie,” in which Barbie (Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) are in “the real world” and they pass by an elderly woman on a bench.
During the moment, Barbie stops to tell the woman she is beautiful. However, Gerwig said the touching scene nearly didn’t make the final cut as she faced pressure to toss the scene.
Gerwig said studio executives urged her to remove the scene because it didn’t add to the film’s plot, but the 39-year-old filmmaker wouldn’t budge, insisting that the scene was “the heart of the movie.”
“I love that scene so much,” Gerwig told the magazine. “And the older woman on the bench is the costume designer Ann Roth. She’s a legend. It’s a cul-de-sac of a moment, in a way — it doesn’t lead anywhere. And in early cuts, looking at the movie, it was suggested, ‘Well, you could cut it. And actually, the story would move on just the same.’ And I said, ‘If I cut the scene, I don’t know what this movie is about.’”
“That’s how I saw it. To me, this is the heart of the movie,” she continued. “The way Margot plays that moment is so gentle and so unforced. There’s the more outrageous elements in the movie that people say, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe Mattel let you do this,’ or, ‘I can’t believe Warner Bros. let you do this.’ But to me, the part that I can’t believe that is still in the movie is this little cul-de-sac that doesn’t lead anywhere — except for, it’s the heart of the movie.”
The scene may not have anything to do with the plot directly, but Gerwig argued that the scene is crucial for fans to grasp Barbie’s outlook on the real world after she leaves the unblemished Barbieland.
“The idea of a loving God who’s a mother, a grandmother — who looks at you and says, ‘Honey, you’re doing OK’ — is something I feel like I need and I wanted to give to other people,” Gerwig told The New York Times about the significance of the scene, which she coined a “transaction of grace.”
“If I cut that scene, I don’t know why I’m making this movie,” Gerwig declared. “If I don’t have that scene, I don’t know what it is or what I’ve done.”
Last week, Gerwig told the IndieWire that despite there being “lots of things that didn’t end up in the final movie,” she insisted that she never had to remove anything “where I thought, ‘Oh, that’s been taken from me by my corporate friends.’”
While the bench scene remained in place, some of the film’s scenes that did get the boot, include Barbie and Ken’s kiss and cameos from Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet.
“Barbie” is now playing in theaters nationwide.