One day after the premiere, the cast of The Gray Man attended a fan screening in Hollywood last night. Chris Evans wore a tight shirt. Ryan Gosling wore a pink shirt.
It’s an interesting time to be in the spotlight right now for Ryan. He’s promoting The Gray Man, but he’s been in the public consciousness for the last few weeks as he’s been shooting the Barbie movie, in which he’s playing Ken. Photos from the set of him and Margot Robbie in neon spandex have been lighting up social media. Barbiecore is already a thing, a full year ahead of the release of the film. So this press tour for The Gray Man has also become a promotional opportunity for Barbie, especially since Ryan’s whole look, with his hair in particular, is not so much The Gray Man as it is Ken.
That was potentially an issue when shooting marketing images for The Gray Man in collaboration with his Tag Heuer endorsement.
This is the first-ever brand partnership of Ryan’s 20-year career, announced back in October. At a private dinner with Tag Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault earlier this week, they talked about how his Barbie hair was actually an issue. Per THR:
“There was some debate internally because when we shot these pictures, Ryan was blond for another movie he was shooting,” said Arnault, adding that the discussion pivoted between “OK, do we keep him blond?” or “Do we stay very strict to The Gray Man?” Ultimately the blond color won out. “We thought, ‘OK, we have to be authentic with the way we shot it, and it’s not meant to be a strict copy of The Gray Man. It’s a different campaign.”
At which point Ryan jumped in and cheekily added that:
“…we had a lot of conversations around it [the blond hair]. Secretly, I get a lot of joy out of it because I know that The Gray Man would be Ken’s favorite movie, so it warms my hearts to see Ken in these pictures.”
Clearly, balancing the promotion between The Gray Man and Barbie is not a problem for Ryan Gosling – he is very good at this. And he’s good at keeping the secrets, because nobody knows what this Barbie movie really is. With Greta Gerwig directing, there for sure will be more to it than just the story of a doll with ostensibly perfect measurements. And an actor like Ryan wouldn’t haven’t taken the role if it was just about bleaching his hair and showing off his abs. So everyone wants to know, but he can’t really say, but they keep asking…and the way he’s handling it is, well, chef’s kiss.
At The Gray Man junket a few days ago, Ryan talked about his “Ken-ergy”, and that it might be harder to be Ken than a spy-assassin:
“That Ken life is even harder than the ‘Gray Man’ life, I think. Ken’s got no money, he’s got no job, he’s got no car, he’s got no house. He’s going through some stuff.”
This was a joke… I think? It’s hard to say, and that’s the point, as he follows up with:
“It’s not what you think it is, unless it is. And then you know what it is, but I don’t think that’s what you think it is. Wait, what are we talking about?”
It’s exactly the right approach to the situation. He doesn’t give much away, he’s building anticipation, and he’s having fun with it – because when you’re Ryan Gosling playing Ken Doll, you have to be in on the joke, and as you can see in the short clip below, Ryan is very much in on the joke.
"This has been coming my whole life," Ryan Gosling says of playing Ken in #Barbie. "I think a lot of Kens will feel seen when they see this. Gotta do it for the Kens of the world. Nobody plays with Kens!" https://t.co/yV2xYiOJWE pic.twitter.com/02FZqNxJeo— Variety (@Variety) July 14, 2022
“Nobody plays with Kens!” I mean I don’t know if he just came up with that or if it was pre-written, but that’s a brilliantly layered line, considering the banter in the moment but also the fact that Ken is, actually, a toy. As I said earlier, Ryan Gosling is one of the most acclaimed actors of his cohort, but he’s also a pretty skilled media star. Like if he was in a Marvel movie, they’d never have to worry about him compromising the plot. Speaking of…is that ever going to happen? Because I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be on their wish list.