Speaking at a special screen talk on Sunday at the BFI London Film Festival, where she received a rockstar welcome (as did her interviewee, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong), she said the film’s set had been “the most joyful” she’d ever been on. “So, I thought, if I can make a movie that is half as fun to watch as it was to make, I think maybe we’ve got a shot.”
However, Gerwig also admitted that despite loving the process of making the film, she still experienced huge amounts of self-doubt over her creative choices, citing the “I’m Just Ken” dance scene where the numerous Kens are fighting on the beach. “That sequence, in particular, was just filled with choices that thrilled me and made me so happy, but then I’d be driving home at the end of the day and thinking… ‘Oh no!’”
Despite Gerwig’s nervousness, Barbie went on to break numerous records, amassing more than $1.4 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of 2023, Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing film of all time and the highest-grossing film by a solo female director.
“It’s like this incredible sense of ‘the song that it’s in my heart is in other people’s hearts,’” she said of the reaction to the film. “It’s been incredibly moving.”
During Barbie‘s opening weekend, Gerwig said she was in New York, but she didn’t wait to hear about the reaction to the film from other people, so she went to get answers for herself.
“I went around to different theatres and sort of stood in the back, and would then also turn up the volume up if I felt it wasn’t playing at the perfect level,” she claimed. At one such screening, she heard one woman howl with laughter over the joke about the Proust Barbie, one of the numerous specific one-liners she inserted in the film. “And I was like: ‘That joke was for you!’”
Gerwig said she was currently working on another project, without giving many details away. “I’m in the writing process,” she admitted, “and it’s hard because I’m having recurring nightmares.”