The SAG-AFTRA strike cut the global Barbie press tour short, so we mostly have older clips to return to after we finally see the movie, such as what appears to be an awkward June red carpet appearance featuring two of Barbie’s stars.
Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu, who both play Ken in the film, were on hand to promote Barbie in Canada on June 28. They’re both posing on the red carpet when Liu tries to place his arm around Gosling before Gosling stops him. The two go back and forth before deciding to pose, standing side-by-side.
“Oh, it’s too tender?” Liu says. “Fair enough.”
“Kenadians are so polite!” a Ryan Gosling fan page wrote at the time when posting the video.
Earlier this week, the video resurfaced as people pointed out its awkwardness, particularly with respect to Liu.
Some fans took it as an indication that Liu wasn’t well-liked among the Barbie cast, with some pointing to a different video from Robbie saying that Liu is the cast member most similar to his character’s personality.
Others alluded to people’s reactions to Liu when the first trailer for Barbie and those character posters came out. Liu, who shot to fame after being cast in the MCU, is a somewhat polarizing celebrity online, with some critics pointing to his alleged online history as part of the reason.
But a few people thought it played into the dynamic that Gosling and Liu’s Kens have with each other in the film, especially with Gosling’s public persona as a real-life Ken during the Barbie press tour. They’re rivals on Barbie Land’s beachfront, with the former getting annoyed or showboating whenever he perceives Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) paying Liu’s Ken special attention; when the Kentingent starts to fall apart later in the film, their insecurities are weaponized, pitting these two Kens against one another on the battlefield.
“I’m confused as to why people are taking this seriously, when Gosling has not been serious for a single moment during this press tour,” @tatertotsmcgee wrote.
We can at least continue seeing Gosling and Liu’s Kens dance off and duke it out on the big screen.
Update 11:25am CT, July 27: Liu addressed the red carpet video. Posting a photo of the duo smiling together at that same event to his Instagram Stories, he praised Gosling and suggested that was part of the actor’s playfulness before directing people to the importance of supporting the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
“He is the best human in every way especially when he jokes around with us on the carpet and on set, infecting all of us with his kenergy… ” he wrote. “Now let’s get back to the issues that matter, like supporting our striking actors and writers fighting for fair wages!”