From Skeptic to Believer: Noah Baumbach Thought ‘Barbie’ Was a ‘Terrible Idea’

Noah Baumbach on barbie

Noah Baumbach was initially quite reluctant when it came to the idea of working on the script for a “Barbie” movie. Despite his partner, Greta Gerwig, agreeing to co-write the film, Baumbach confessed during a special screening at the Writers Guild of America West that he thought the project was a “terrible idea.”

In his own words, Baumbach admitted, “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.’ I kind of blocked it for a while, and every time she’d bring it up, I’d be like, ‘You’ve got to get us out of this.’ And then the pandemic happened.”

One of Baumbach’s primary concerns was that there didn’t seem to be a clear character or story for the Barbie movie. He voiced this concern by saying, “There’s no character and there’s no story, so why do you want to do this? There’s no entry point.” He even made efforts to try and find a way out of the project.

It wasn’t until Gerwig presented Baumbach with the initial pages of the script, which featured Barbie waking up in her Dreamhouse and encountering someone who was sick and dying, that he had a change of heart. He explained, “I read these pages and I thought, ‘I understand now what this is.’ The movie is about embracing your mortality and about the mess of it all, so it was exciting.”

Baumbach also highlighted that the collaborative writing process with Gerwig was filled with humor and a friendly competition to entertain each other with jokes.

In the end, Baumbach acknowledged that despite his initial reservations, he realized the project had great potential. He stated, “Then 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.’ 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.'”

Gerwig, on her part, revealed that she agreed to work on the “Barbie” movie with producer and lead actress Margot Robbie before even discussing it with Baumbach. She explained, “Margot came to me and said, ‘Would you be interested in writing this?’ And I said, ‘Yes!’ And then I said, ‘And Noah would like to write it too.’ And I had not really talked to Noah about this.”

She added,

“I don’t know! I think I had a six-month-old baby when I said yes? And I wasn’t necessarily running everything by him…It was in March of 2020 that Noah said, ‘Are we meant to be writing a ‘Barbie’ movie?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I don’t have any ideas for that! Why didn’t you sign us up to write a different thing?’ And I was like, ‘Because I have a feeling. I like Margot and I have a feeling.'”



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