Greta Gerwig debunked a theory about an actress’ identity in her highly anticipated Barbie movie, which hits theaters July 21.
After the film’s release, it was widely speculated that Barbara Handler, who inspired the Barbie doll, appeared in a scene with Margot Robbie’s title character as she relaxed on a park bench in Santa Monica, California.
However, the woman who spoke to the 33-year-old Australian actress was actually costume designer Ann Roth, not the daughter of Mattel co-founder and Barbie inventor Ruth Handler.
While discussing the Oscar-winning costume designer’s cameo, Gerwig told Rolling Stone, “I love that scene so much.” And the older woman on the bench is costume designer Ann Roth.”
“She’s a legend.” “In a way, it’s a dead end – it’s going nowhere,” the director explained.
Clarification: Greta Gerwig debunked a theory about an actress’ identity in her highly anticipated Barbie film, which hits theaters July 21; seen earlier this month
Incorrect: After the film’s release, it was widely speculated that Handler (pictured in 2002) appeared in a scene with Margot Robbie’s title character as he relaxed on a park bench in Santa Monica, California
After some suggested she might “cut the moment short,” the 39-year-old Sacramento native said without the scene, “The story would still go on” and that she doesn’t know “what this movie is about.”
Handler spoke to TMZ in April about the highly anticipated film, which hits theaters on Friday, and said she thinks Robbie, 33, has succeeded in playing the iconic character.
She also praised the Greta Gerwig-directed film’s expanded cast, which includes Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Alexandra Shipp, Dua Lipa and John Cena.
Handler told the outlet that her mother, Ruth, who died on April 27, 2002 after undergoing surgery to battle colon cancer, would be both happy and shocked if the doll became the focus of a big-budget Hollywood film.
Ruth was the first President of Mattel, which she founded in 1945 with her husband Elliot Handler.
With the invention of the Barbie doll, Ruth wanted to bring to life the paper dolls that Barbara played with. In her 1994 memoir, Dream Doll: The Ruth Handler Story, she explained the idea behind the concept.
“I discovered something very important: they used these dolls to project their dreams of their own future as adult women. …Wouldn’t it be great if we could take this game pattern and make it three dimensional?” Ruth said about the paper dolls.
Ruth said in her book that her spouse Elliot and former business partner Harold “Matt” Matson were skeptical that the product would be a success.
Misidentity: While many believed Barbara Handler to have starred in the film, the woman in the scene was actually costume designer Ann Roth (see above).
The Opposite of Margot Robbie: Speaking about the Oscar-winning costume designer’s cameo, Gerwig told Rolling Stone, “I love that scene so much.” And the older woman on the bench is costume designer Ann Roth.
“Ruth, it’s not going to work,” I was told flatly,” she said in the book.
She added that there were also difficulties in capturing the character’s femininity through her form.
“I really think that the squeamishness of these designers – all male – is mainly due to the fact that the doll would have breasts,” Ruth said. “Even Elliot, who has an uncanny talent for correctly predicting what others would buy, feared that no mother would buy her daughter a doll with a chest.”
In 1956, while vacationing in Switzerland, Handler noticed a novel doll that bore resemblance to her earlier idea.
Robbie leads the cast of the iconic toy brand’s highly anticipated summertime blockbuster
She said, “Here were the breasts, the tiny waist, the long, tapered legs that I had been so enthusiastic about describing to the designers all those years ago.”
She took one home and had Mattel Vice President Jack Ryan work on adapting the doll for a young American audience. The famous toy first hit store shelves three years later, with 300,000 dolls sold in its first year, according to the company.
Kim Culmone, Mattel’s SVP of Barbie design, told People that the idea didn’t sell easily in the late 1950s.
“Ruth was able to sell Barbie to a toy industry that was reluctant to think of a doll that a girl could use to express her hopes and inspiration,” Culmone said.