Helen Mirren Confirms That Was Her in the ‘Barbie’ Trailer—And There’s More
As if Margot Robbie as a towering first-edition Barbie and Ryan Gosling in fringed leather were not enough of a delight, the first Barbie teaser trailer, which premiered Friday morning, also featured a surprise narrator cameo from none other than Dame Helen Mirren. “Since the beginning of time, since the first little girl ever existed, there have been dolls,” Mirren says in the preview, an unexpected homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. “But the dolls were always and forever baby dolls, until…”
Mirren, acting as Barbie’s personal emcee, introduces the film’s namesake—a massive, Barbie-fied Robbie, wearing a black-and-white strapless swimsuit, cat-eye glasses, and blond bangs. Barbie lowers her sunglasses and winks once to nearby girls playing with their baby dolls, who immediately drop or violently smash their toys.
In an interview with Vanity Fair on Friday, pegged to Mirren’s leading role in the Yellowstone spin-off 1923, which will run on VanityFair.com Monday, the Oscar winner says she “was fairly thrilled” that Gerwig, a previous collaborator, “would ask me to be a part of” the trailer. “I thought it was an incredibly funny, fun thing to be involved in,” says Mirren.
The actors go back a little over a decade to 2011’s Arthur, the largely forgotten remake of the Dudley Moore rom-com that starred Russell Brand as the title character. In it, Mirren played Arthur’s nanny while Gerwig played his love interest. Mirren admits that the film “was a bit of a disaster, really,” but her relationship with Gerwig thankfully survived the movie’s memory.
“We formed a good bond together,” says Mirren, noting Gerwig’s impressive filmmaking career since. In 2018, Gerwig earned twin Oscar nominations for writing and directing the critically lauded coming-of-age drama Lady Bird. Two years later, she earned a follow-up Oscar nomination for writing 2019’s Little Women, which Gerwig also directed. “She’s an amazing visionary and an extraordinary talent,” says Mirren.
Asked whether she appears in the film, which was written by Gerwig and her partner, Noah Baumbach, Mirren says that she filmed a brief cameo but isn’t sure whether it will make the final cut of the film, which opens in theaters July 21, 2023.
“I did shoot an appearance, but whether that’s gotten to stay in the movie, I don’t know,” says Mirren. Asked whether she too plays a Barbie—many people have noted that the Queen Elizabeth Barbie resembles Mirren, who earned an Oscar for playing the monarch—the actor laughs, “Good lord, no. Playing myself basically.”
Mirren declines to give more details, but Will Ferrell, who costars in the film as a fictional Mattel CEO, gave a few more clues about the script in an interview earlier this year.
“It is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate example of high art and low art,” Ferrell told WSJ. Magazine. “It’s a loving homage to the brand and, at the same time, couldn’t be more satirical—just an amazing comment on male patriarchy and women in society and why Barbie’s criticized and yet why every little girl still wants to play with Barbie. Boy, when I read it, I was like, This is fantastic.”
Barbie also costars Simu Liu, America Ferrera, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emerald Fennell, Hari Nef, and Michael Cera.
In a cover story for Vanity Fair, Robbie spoke about adapting the iconic Mattel product through her production company LuckyChap Entertainment.
“Making an obvious Barbie movie would’ve been extremely easy to do,” Robbie said, “and anything easy to do is probably not worth doing.… People have got strong feelings. I’d much rather that than indifference. Now, let me subvert your expectations. It’s much scarier, but it’s also a great place to begin.”
In Vanity Fair’s conversation with Mirren, the Oscar winner spoke about subverting expectations herself—as Cara Dutton, the gun-wielding female lead of the Yellowstone spin-off 1923. Speaking about traditional female roles in Western films and movies, the actor says, “I never liked Westerns, because the women [characters] were always so awful. They always had breasts [on display] in ghastly dresses. Awful dresses. Either they were nice school teachers or the tart with the heart—you know, the madam of the brothel who really looks after everyone.” (Mirren notes that one exception to this rule was Doris Day’s Calamity Jane: “She was pretty cool.”)
Mirren’s Cara Dutton gets a much grittier role, and even opens the series with the kind of action-packed sequence rarely given to female actors of any age. Later in the episode, when Dutton’s husband, Jacob (Harrison Ford), leaves the ranch, it is Mirren’s character who steps up to manage the property herself.