Barbie Star Reflects On Shooting Movie’s Pivotal Monologue That Meryl Streep “Has Been Waiting For”

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Summary

  • America Ferrera reflects on the powerful impact of her monologue in the Barbie movie, stating that the words rang true for every woman she knows.
  • Ferrera describes the pressure and intensity of delivering the monologue, which was originally intended for Meryl Streep’s character, but ultimately given to her.
  • The realism and emotional depth of the monologue, combined with the decision to let Ferrera shape her delivery, contributed to the impactful and grounded ending of the Barbie movie.

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Warning: This article contains spoilers about the Barbie movie!

A Barbie star is opening up about what it was like to shoot the movie’s game-changing monologue. Barbie is all about the role of women in society and the effect that Barbies have had on the childhoods of many young girls. With the reveal of the Real World’s patriarchy changing Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) forever, the film explores more than just the happy-go-lucky life of Barbieland.

America Ferrera’s long and heart-wrenching monologue in Barbie drove home those themes by walking through every way that the patriarchy impacts women in the Real World. In an interview with LA Times, which took place before the SAG-AFTRA, Ferrera explained exactly what it was like to film the monologue:

When I first read it, it just hit me as the truth. There’s no woman in my life who those words aren’t true for. Not a single one. So it felt like a gift. And it felt very intimidating, because Greta was like, “I hope you enjoy the script. Also, there’s a monologue that Meryl Streep said she’d like to do, but it’s for your character. So, enjoy.” And I’m like, “What?” Actually, what Greta said to me was, “Meryl Streep said that this was the kind of monologue she has been waiting her whole career to say” — something like that, which put the pressure on early. All that’s said in the monologue is just the truth. And when we hear the truth, it hits in a certain way, and you can’t unhear it, right? I felt like I did it 500 times. It’s rare as an actor to get the opportunity to get to play a moment like that, to really swim in it and love it and try it out a million different ways. Greta never gave me a target. We talked about it, but she wasn’t like, “I want you to laugh here. And I want you to cry there.” Even when I was like, “What’s the tone of this?” she said, “I don’t know, let’s just do it and find out.” She had so much trust in me, and I had so much trust in her. They were really intense days on set for me. And I felt like they were intense for the crew too, because they were listening to it. I had a lot of crew members come up to me and say, “Wow, I really heard that.”

Ferrera was struck by the sheer realism of the monologue, especially since Barbie director Greta Gerwig allowed her to decide her own means of delivering the lines. Ferrera revealed that even Meryl Streep wanted to deliver the monologue, yet it was left to Ferrera’s character, Gloria, all the same. She was the Real World character who needed to affect real-world people. It’s why the ending of Barbie was so emotional and grounded.


Why Barbie’s Monologue Is So Important

Margot Robbie as Barbie in her car in the Barbie movie.

At first glance, Barbie could very well appear to be a typical family movie. It offers bright colors, friendly characters, and the sort of humor that adults and children can enjoy. That isn’t all that it is, though. Both Barbie‘s villain twist and Ferrera’s monologue take it to another level by bringing in important themes that have real-world implications. With patriarchy — and fighting that patriarchy — becoming an essential element of the film, both Barbie and Ken need to reckon with the reality of feminism in the modern landscape.

Gloria’s purpose, however, is more important than either Barbie or Ken, despite the fact that Barbie is meant to follow Barbie’s story. Unlike Barbie, Gloria was never entitled to life in Barbieland, where she could live freely without the pressures of the patriarchy or misogyny. She grew up in the Real World, and she understands the conflicting expectations that society has about women. Women need to reach an impossible ideal, yet are utterly reviled if they attempt to do so. It’s an impossible contradiction. Having just come to the Real World, Barbie could not deliver that message. Gloria can.

In many ways, a simple purpose of feminism is to allow women to live their lives without being burdened by the patriarchy. Gloria’s monologue in Barbie explains exactly what that burden is like, and Barbie proves that it can be just as harmful for Kens as it can be for Barbies. Considering how heart-breaking and real Gloria’s speech is, it’s no wonder that Meryl Streep was interested in performing that Barbie monologue herself.

Source: LA Times