Warning: Spoilers ahead for Barbie. In the hottest movie of the summer, one monologue perfectly summed up the impossible tightrope women have to walk in modern society. Now director Greta Gerwig has revealed America Ferrera’s Barbie speech made everyone on set cry, even the men.
“When America was giving her beautiful speech, I was just sobbing, and then I looked around and I realized everybody’s crying on the set,” Gerwig told Variety. “The men are crying, too, because they have their own speech they feel they can’t ever give, you know? And they have their twin tightrope, which is also painful. There’s something about some of these structures that are just, you know, ‘Somebody make me stop!’ That’s sort of, I suppose, the feeling behind Ken.”
Ferrera plays the character of Gloria in the Barbie film. She’s a human whose life becomes linked with Barbie’s as she ventures to the “real world”, and after the doll has an existential crisis, Gloria delivers this moving speech about the difficulties of being a woman in modern society. Read America Ferrera’s Barbie speech in full and then read about how the monologue came to be.
America Ferrera’s Barbie speech
Read America Ferrara’s Barbie speech in full below:
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining.
You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”
How America Ferrera felt about Greta Gerwig’s monologue
It’s one of the first things Greta mentioned to Ferrera even before she even read the script. According to an interview with Vanity Fair, Ferrera detailed how Greta “said, ‘I wrote this monologue for Gloria, and I’ve always imagined you saying this.’ While that was flattering, it also felt like pressure in the nicest way,” Ferrera recalled. “I read the monologue and it hit me as powerful and meaningful. It also felt like, wow, what a gift as an actor to get to deliver something that feels so cathartic and truthful. But it also felt like this pivotal moment that I obviously didn’t want to mess up. There was a little bit of healthy pressure around it.”
How long did America Ferrera’s Barbie speech take to film?
Ferrera said it took about 30 to 50 takes “top to bottom—and two days of filming, she told Vanity Fair—to get it just right. “By the end, [her co-star Ariana Greenblatt] recited the monologue to me because she had memorized it because that’s how many times I had said it.”
Ferrera continued to Variety: “Neither one of us went into it feeling like it’s got to grow and crescendo to this big moment where you burst into tears or you’re laughing so hard you cry,” Ferrera added. “There were no targets to hit. It was much more a moment-to-moment drop in. Truly, every take was very different. There were takes that leaned into anger. There were takes that leaned into laughter. It really did, over the course of filming, find a shape. It was about just staying as present in the moment and just seeing really where the words would take it.”
In her interview with Vanity Fair, she went into more detail. “It’s one part of a much bigger scene with lots of characters in it. I had to do it many, many times for other people’s coverage and to get through the whole scene and over the course of two days,” Ferrera said. “But she gave me so much freedom with it. There were moments in shooting the movie where Greta really had written something in a very specific way that she heard a very specific way in her head with particular cadence in a particular speed or a particular inflection. I thought maybe this would be like that, but it was the opposite. She wanted me to completely make it my own and find it as we did it.”
She added: “It felt like 500” takes. “I’m sure it wasn’t. It was probably 30 to 50 full runs of it, top to bottom. By the end, Ariana recited the monologue to me because she had memorized it because that’s how many times I had said it.”
Here’s a list of the Barbie cast featuring all the Barbies, Kens, and humans!
- Margot Robbie as Barbie
- Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie
- Issa Rae as President Barbie
- Alexandra Shipp as Writer Barbie
- Emma Mackey as Physicist Barbie
- Hari Nef as Dr. Barbie
- Sharon Rooney as Lawyer Barbie
- Ana Cruz Kayne as Judge Barbie
- Ritu Arya as Journalist Barbie
- Dua Lipa as the Mermaid Barbies
- Nicola Coughlan as Diplomat Barbie
- Mette Narrative as Barbie Video Girl
- Marisa Abela as Teen Talk Barbie
- Lucy Boynton as Proust Barbie
- Ryan Gosling as Ken
- Different variations of Ken played by:
- Simu Liu as Tourist Ken
- Kingsley Ben-Adir as Basketball Ken
- Scott Evans as Stereotypical Ken
- Ncuti Gatwa as Artist Ken
- John Cena as Kenmaid, a merman Ken
- Rob Brydon as Sugar Daddy Ken
- Tom Stourton as Earring Magic Ken
- America Ferrera as Gloria
- Michael Cera as Allan
- Ariana Greenblatt as Sasha, Gloria’s daughter
- Genvieve Toussaint as young Sasha
- Rhea Perlman as the spirit of Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel
- Helen Mirren as the narrator
- Will Ferrell as the CEO of Mattel
- Connor Swindells as Aaron Dinkins, a Mattel employee
- Jamie Demetriou as the CFO of Mattel
- Emerald Fennell as Midge
- Erica Ford as Skipper
- Hannah Khalique-Brown as “Growing Up” Skipper
- Ann Roth as the woman on the bench
Will Barbie have a sequel?
Will Barbie have a sequel? Director Greta Gerwig teased on whether or not the possibility of seeing our favorite dolls on screen once more. “At this moment, it’s all I’ve got. I feel like that at the end of every movie, like I’ll never have another idea and everything I’ve ever wanted to do, I did. I wouldn’t want to squash anybody else’s dream but for me, at this moment, I’m at totally zero,” she told The New York Times. However, Mattel says they have 45 movies in development based on their various toy properties.
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