Margot Robbie Was Worried That ‘Barbie’ Would Be ‘Polarizing,’ According to Mattel Exec

barbie margot robbie mattel cmo podcast
Samir Hussein/WireImage

There’s no denying that Margot Robbie is an ideal person to star in Barbie, from her platinum blonde hair to her flawless features. So, imagine our surprise when we learned that the 33-year-old actress didn’t consider herself a “Barbie girl.”

barbie margot robbie mattel cmo podcast
Courtesy of Warner Bros

Mattel’s executive vice president and chief brand officer, Lisa McKnight, appeared on an all-new episode of The CMO Podcast, titled “Bringing Barbie to the Silver Screen,” to chat with host Jim Stengel about the impact of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. McKnight also shared never-before-heard details about Margot Robbie (who plays the titular role) and how she helped create the narrative.  

barbie margot robbie mattel cmo podcast lisa mcknight
Courtesy of Warner Bros

“She was not a Barbie girl growing up. So, that was interesting to hear,” McKnight said. “But she was very perceptive about the brand and acknowledged right out of the gate that Barbie can be polarizing and said that if she was going to make this movie, she needed some freedom to explore all aspects of the brand. And while that made us uncomfortable, we’re thrilled that we got to a good place.”

McKnight continued, “I had to get comfortable getting uncomfortable. But the minute we took her on the sort of journey that the brand has been on especially over the past ten years, there was a whole new appreciation for the modernity of Barbie and the evolution the doll has made, the brand has made and the purpose that we’re creating in the world.”

McKnight confirmed that the story was inspired by the creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler (played by Rhea Perlman in the film). Although Ruth passed away in 2002, McKnight turned to the next best thing for inspiration: Ruth’s daughter, Barbara.

“I met [Ruth Handler] briefly but never in a meaningful way,” McKnight added. “I will share I have been spending time with Barbara Handler, daughter, who Barbie was inspired by. And we had the privilege of hosting Barbara and her family at our employee screening that we could go to. And it was really exciting to hear her take not only on the film, but on the magnitude of the brand that started as a doll that her mother created and is so much more than that today.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...