Noah Baumbach has shared that he initially thought Barbie was a “terrible idea”.
At a special screening at the Writers Guild Of America West headquarters, Baumbach appeared with his wife and Barbie director Greta Gerwig. Baumbach, who missed the Barbie press tour due to the WGA strike, was able to give his first interview about the $1.4 billion-grossing film, as per Variety.
Despite Barbie’s global success and critical acclaim, Baumbach didn’t always feel hopeful about the prospect of the movie. He confessed to director and Q&A moderator Judd Apatow: “I thought it was a terrible idea and Greta signed me up for it.
“I was just like, ‘I don’t see how this is going to be good at all,’” he continued. “I kind of blocked it for a while and every time she’d bring it up, I’d be like, ‘You’ve gotta get us out of this.’”
Gerwig went on to explain the reasons her husband was reluctant to be involved, saying: “‘There’s no character and there’s no story, so why do you want to do this? There’s no entry point.’ And he’d do, like, side calls to try to get us out of it.”
However, Baumbach changed his mind when Gerwig present him with a partial script during the pandemic: “It was Barbie waking up in her Dreamhouse and coming out to her backyard and meeting somebody who was sick and dying.
“I read these pages and I thought, ‘I understand now what this is,’” he continued. “The movie is about embracing your mortality and about the mess of it all, so it was exciting.”
By the time the movie was being made, it was clear his mind had been changed as he shared, “It was the most fun I think either of us have ever had, right? And then at a certain point, I was like, ‘I think this is the best thing we’ve ever written.’”
He also shared about working with his wife, “I know enough always just to follow what Greta says, so even in my bellyaching and revolting, I kind of knew, ‘Well if she really believes it, then there’s something there.’”
Barbie‘s success has led to a huge spike in the toy’s sales, and helped the doll top the list of the most popular Halloween costumes of 2023.
It was also released to critical success; NME‘s four-star review said of the movie: “For a movie that ostensibly exists to promote a doll, this is laudable. Now come on Barbie, let’s go party.” In a three-star review, NME also described the soundtrack as “packed with a surprising diversity of sounds paying homage to the Mattel muse. The soundtrack has some wonderful highs and some miserable lows – but then again, it’s not all rosy in Barbie Land…”