Ryan Gosling on Criticism He’s Too Old to Play Ken and Life With Eva Mendes and Daughters

Following Margot Robbie’s lead from last week, Ryan Gosling gave his first in-depth interview on the Barbie movie, this time to GQ. The actor spoke candidly about the criticism he received from some that he was too old for the role of Ken. He also gave rare details about his life with Eva Mendes and their two daughters, eight-year-old Esmeralda and seven-year-old Amada, and shared why he took a pause from making movies for his little girls.

“I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them,” he said of taking a break from projects for four years. He never saw himself as a father, he added, until “Eva said she was pregnant. I would never want to go back, you know? I’m glad I didn’t have control over my destiny in that way, because it was so much better than I ever had dreamed for myself.”

He added that most of the time, he’s at home with Mendes and their kids. The couple does not have a nanny, but relatives do come around.

When Mendes came into his life, she changed everything. “I was looking for her, you know?” Gosling said, adding he didn’t even fully know it at the time. “But it all makes sense now.” With parenting, when he isn’t sure what to do, “I just lean on Eva. She knows what’s important, always. She just somehow knows. So if ever I’m in my head about it, I just ask her.”

Gosling’s involvement in Barbie stemmed partly from his daughters playing with the dolls—including Ken. “I did see him, like, face down in the mud outside one day, next to a squished lemon, and it was like, This guy’s story does need to be told, you know?” he recalled.

He also saw his younger self in Ken’s “no thoughts, just vibes” persona as GQ put it: “There’s something about this Ken that really, I think, relates to that [kid] version of myself. Just, like, the guy that was putting on Hammer pants and dancing at the mall and smelling like Drakkar Noir and Aqua Net-ing bangs. I owe that kid a lot. I feel like I was very quick to distance myself from him when I started making more serious films. But the reality is that, like, he’s the reason I have everything I have.”

As for some people online claiming a younger actor should’ve been cast in the role, 42-year-old Gosling responded, “I would say, you know, if people don’t want to play with my Ken, there are many other Kens to play with.”

He continued discussing the point later in the interview: “It is funny, this kind of clutching-your-pearls idea of, like, #notmyken. Like you ever thought about Ken before this?”

“And everyone was fine with that, for him to have a job that is nothing,” he continued, having described Ken’s job himself as just “beach.” “But suddenly, it’s like, ‘No, we’ve cared about Ken this whole time.’ No, you didn’t. You never did. You never cared. Barbie never fucked with Ken. That’s the point. If you ever really cared about Ken, you would know that nobody cared about Ken. So your hypocrisy is exposed. This is why his story must be told.”

“I care about this dude now,” he said with a laugh. “I’m like his representative. ‘Ken couldn’t show up to receive this award, so I’m here to accept it for him.’ ”

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Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.

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