In theaters July 21, the musical comedy stars Robbie, also a producer on the film, as the central Barbie, known as Stereotypical Barbie on screen, as she experiences a full on identity crisis. Bombarded with thoughts of her mortality, she embarks on a trip from the idyllic pink utopia of Barbie Land, inhabited by various other Barbies and Kens, to the real world in search for answers. Along for the ride is her beau Ken (Gosling), who also grapples with his own existentialism and self-discovery throughout the flick about knowing who you are.
Gosling has fully leaned into his Kenergy to build up excitement during the film's glossy international press tour, gifting moviegoers with the most delightful and occasionally bizarre (non-derogatory) quotes in the process. Revisit some of his best Kenisms below.
Warner Bros. Ryan Gosling in 'Barbie'
When Gosling introduced the term "Kenergy"
While promoting The Gray Man, Gosling coined the term of the summer: Kenergy. The aforementioned Netflix thriller prophetically features Chris Evans' character referring to Gosling's as a "Ken doll," which the actor said "is not an insult at all." He told ET Online, "I'm proud of that. I have that Kenergy. Which he could feel, obviously, when he commented on it. I still feel like the Kenergy is alive."
When asked to expand on the definition of the term, he offered, "You know what I mean... no? You've got a Ken in your life. And you know that Ken has... Kenergy. 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."
When Gosling found Ken "facedown in the mud"
In conversation with Jimmy Fallon last summer, Gosling addressed the fervor surrounding the viral first-look image of him as Ken and said a specific moment of neglect in his backyard ultimately emboldened him to take on the role.
"I was surprised how, you know, some people were clutching their pearls at my Ken as though they ever thought about Ken for a second before this," he said of the reactions. "They never played with Ken. Nobody plays with Ken, man. He's an accessory and not even one of the cool ones."
As for the moment in his yard that awakened the Kenergy in him, "I walk out in the backyard and you know where I found Ken, Jimmy? Facedown in the mud next to a squished lemon." He texted an image of the scene to director Greta Gerwig, "and I said, 'I shall be your Ken, for his story must be told.'"
When Gosling broke his silence on #NotMyKen
In a more expansive conversation with GQ in May, Gosling responded to some of the criticisms surrounding his casting as a more weathered star. (A few folks on social media remarked that he looked "too old" for the part.)
"I would say, you know, if people don't want to play with my Ken, there are many other Kens to play with," he said.
He added, "It is funny, this kind of clutching-your-pearls idea of, like, #notmyken. Like you ever thought about Ken before this?" The guy's job is just "beach," after all. "For 60 years, his job has been beach. What the f--- does that even mean?"
Everyone "was fine with that, for him to have a job that is nothing," Gosling continued, "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 f---ed 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."
Basically, "I care about this dude now," he added. "I'm like his representative. 'Ken couldn't show up to receive this award, so I'm here to accept it for him.'"
Warner Bros. Pictures Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in 'Barbie'
When Gosling had doubts of his "Kenergy"
At CinemaCon 2023 in April, Gosling admitted that he doubted his Kenergy at first, but credited Gerwig and Robbie for helping him navigate that period of uncertainty. "I only knew Ken from afar," he said. "I didn't know Ken from within and if I'm being really honest, I doubted my Kenergy. I didn't see it, but Margot and Greta, they conjured this out of me somehow."
He continued, "It was like I was living my life and then one day I was bleaching my hair, shaving my legs, wearing bespoke neon outfits, and rollerblading down Venice beach. It came on like a light scarlet fever and then I woke up one day and was like, 'Why is there fake tanner in my sheets? What just happened?'"
When Gosling compared shedding his character to Cinnabons
— BuzzFeed Celeb (@BuzzFeedCeleb) July 12, 2023
After fully harnessing his Kenergy, Gosling said it was a bit difficult leaving that persona behind once filming had wrapped. He compared the experience to an open canister of Cinnabon mix in conversation with BuzzFeed, much to the confusion of Robbie. "It's a bit like that Pillsbury Cinnabon mix," he explained. "Once you open that canister, it all just [comes out]" and it's hard to contain.
"That makes perfect sense," Robbie quips. Well, not really, because "I don't know what a Cinnabon is," she adds.
When Gosling called for funding of the Ken Institute of Kenergy
The term "Kenergy" is already a pivotal part of the cultural zeitgeist, but, Gosling said, "very little" is actually known about it. When asked to define Kenergy once more by Extra, Gosling offered, "You know, very little is known about Kenergy. And we don't have the funding for research. We know that it's real, you know? In my case it came on like a rash and then it turned into a tan. Then suddenly you're shaving your legs and you're bleaching your hair and you're wearing bespoke neon rollerblades."
Hopefully, Gosling added, the film starts those important conversations and "we can start funding it and really finding out what" Kenergy truly is.
Ken and his Kenergy arrive in theaters July 21.