Why is Simu Liu sure ‘Barbie’ is taking a step forward and leaving its stereotypical beauty standards behind?

Simu Liu, Barbie
Image via Warner Bros.

Greta Gerwig is inviting us all into Barbie’s world this year in the much anticipated Barbie movie, which features a smorgasbord of talented actors and actresses. Marvel actor Simu Liu is one of these additions to the cast and can be seen in the trailer giving his all in a Fosse-esque dance move. Liu believes that this particular Barbie production will push the envelope on diverse beauty, as being on set felt like a celebration of acceptance.

The actor is said to be playing a version of Ken, though currently, the only actor listed as playing Ken, Barbie’s long-term boyfriend/best friend, is Ryan Gosling. Despite being a cinematic wonder, the trailer doesn’t really give us many clues as to what to expect from the film at all, providing only brief glimpses into Barbie’s world.

Liu spoke to Vanity Fair about the upcoming film while remaining professionally mum on any spoilers or tidbits (he was a Marvel star, after all). He praised co-writer and director Gerwig for the diverse ensemble that she put together and how the film promotes inner beauty. At the Unforgettable Gala, an event that honors Asian artists and leaders in entertainment, Liu said,

“I remember very clearly about some of our big intricate dance sequences. Greta was very, very conscientious about who she cast. We were able to cast people of different shapes, sizes, differently abled, to all participate in this dance—all under this message of: You don’t have to be blonde, white, or X, Y, Z in order to embody what it means to be a Barbie or a Ken.”

Though Mattel, Inc. (who owns Barbie) has over time broadened and diversified the doll, giving her different jobs to do, creating different body shapes, and also creating a range of friends for her that are extremely diverse, the image of Barbie has often promoted a certain “standard” of beauty.

Liu says that Gerwig’s film, however, is “really about finding your inner beauty and owning that part of yourself and being the best possible version of you.” The actor discussed how being on set felt more like hanging out with friends and that each day was a celebration of diversity, saying,

“I will say, going on set I was never isolated. I felt like I was going to work every day with a cast that really celebrated each other and celebrated each other’s differences, no matter where we came from. I think when you watch the movie, you’ll see that reflected on the screen.”

Along with Liu, the cast includes, Margot Robbie as Barbie, Gosling as Ken, and in undisclosed roles, Emma Mackey, Nicola Coughlan, Kate McKinnon, Ariana Greenblatt, Rita Arya, America Ferrera, Alexandra Shipp, Ncuti Gatwa, Michael Cera, Hari Nef, and Issa Rae. Helen Mirren will also play a role and it’s her voice you hear narrating the trailer.

Barbie will dance its way into theatres on July 21, 2023.