July 21, 2023 marks one of the most culturally significant cinematic releases of the year. And no, we’re not talking about Christopher Nolan’s nuclear epic Oppenheimer. We are, of course, referring to Barbie, Greta Gerwig’s ode to the iconic Mattel doll.
In addition to Margot Robbie as the titular toy, the cast of the film includes a whole plastic panoply of other Barbies, each of whom embodies a different one of the many, many jobs that the character has held over the years. Pop star Dua Lipa makes her big-screen debut as Mermaid Barbie, for instance, while Insecure creator Issa Rae is President Barbie, model Hari Nef is Doctor Barbie, and Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon plays an ’80s-era aerobics-themed incarnation.
But that’s not all.
It was announced in 2021 that Ryan Gosling would be playing the Ken to Robbie’s Barbie, but we now know that there there will be multiple Kens in the movie: new character posters announcing the full cast feature taglines such as “He’s Ken too.” and “Ken again!”
Here’s everything we know about the actors playing Ken in Barbie.
Gosling was the first actor to be announced as Ken, and we’ve already seen a sneak peek of him in character, complete with platinum blonde hair (the first time he’s rocked the look since his performance in The Place Beyond the Pines) and denim vest.
Simu Liu’s star rose to stratospheric levels when the Kim’s Convenience actor entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021 as the title character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a role he will reprise in the upcoming sequel.
Best known for the role of Eric in Netflix’s hugely popular high school comedy-drama series Sex Education, Gatwa recently took on one of the biggest mantles in pop culture when it was announced that he will be the fifteenth actor to play the Doctor in Doctor Who, one of the longest-running staples of British television. So he’ll be well-versed in the responsibility of playing the similarly iconic Ken.
(Gatwa’s Sex Education co-star Connor Swindells will also appear in the movie; his character poster describes him as “like an intern or something.”)
Following on from roles in The OA and High Fidelity, Kingsley Ben-Adir is gearing up to play a leading role in Marvel’s conspiracy thriller series Secret Invasion, in which he is tipped to be the primary villain. So how better to shore up goodwill than as Ken?
The brother of Avengers star Chris Evans has an impressive resume in his own right, but this is the first time he is taking on a role that is arguably even more widely known and loved than Captain America.
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.
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