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This dancer shares his memories of being on the set of Barbie: ‘It was magic’

"I didn't speak to Ryan [Gosling] one-on-one but [was close enough] to the point where you could reach out. I didn't!" dancer Liam Riddick tells Attitude of being on the Barbie set.

By Alastair James

Liam Riddick in Barbie
Liam Riddick in Barbie (Image: Provided and Warner Bros)

Without a doubt, Barbie is one of the biggest films of the year (if not the biggest!)

The film was already highly anticipated ahead of its release thanks to some clever, hilarious, and at times insane marketing. Can we stay at the Barbie Dreamhouse in Malibu?

The film stars Margot Robbie as the titular Mattel doll, who goes on a quest to discover “the truth about the universe.”

She’s joined along the way by the hilarious Ryan Gosling as Ken, who discovers the patriarchy of the real world and brings that back to Barbie Land and chaos ensues.

Eventually, all the Kens charge into battle with one another culminating in the song ‘I’m Just Ken.’ The song sees the Kens unified as they sing: “I’m just Ken (And I’m enough)/And I’m great at doing stuff.”

The scene sees around 40 dancing Kens take part in a dreams sequence inspired by classic Hollywood. One of those Kens was dancer Liam Riddick, who was singled out at a recent showing of the film for his role.

Here he talks to Attitude about being on set, being with the cast and what memories he’s taken away.

How does it feel to be a Ken and also in one of the biggest movies of the year?

It’s a really nice feeling. It’s really exciting to be part of the hype. We shot it over a year ago, so it was super exciting to relive all the memories and go back through pictures and stuff. And then to see the film in the cinema was incredible. It’s so great. To say out loud that you’re a part of that is just magic.

When did you get cast?

I didn’t really know about the casting originally. But I’d known Jennifer White, the choreographer, who’s just incredible, for a long while, and also her associate Lisa Whelan again, who’s brilliant. They knew they had this scene with 40 Kens. I was lucky enough, they gave me a call and just said, “Are you free?” So, I went in and learned what had been done so far.

Liam Riddick was cast in Barbie
Liam Riddick was cast in Barbie (Image: Provided)

What were rehearsals like?

The rehearsals were great. We shot the ‘I’m Just Ken’ dream sequence in like an aircraft hangar. There’s nothing in that room, it’s just pink and blue, it was so vast and empty. To see it on film and see how beautiful it looks with the choreography and the lighting, it’s so effective. Rehearsals were so intense because it had to be spot on. It was so specific. We’d work all day on one specific bit and then [that would be] sent off to the director and others and then their notes would come back. Then the next day, you’d have to change it. But that’s life as a dancer. But, because of the group, it was just so much fun. We had a laugh from start to finish each day.

What was it like on set?

It was really great. The atmosphere was brilliant. I think what made it was the people. I knew a lot of the dancers but you automatically become friends and you hang out in these really cool sets and run around for a living and jump and dance. For me, it was all the Kens on the project that made it because it was such a fun job to be a part of.

Liam Riddick with Ryan Gosling and all the Kens on the set of Barbie
Liam Riddick with Ryan Gosling and all the Kens on the set of Barbie (Image: Provided)

Great Gerwig [the director] has talked about using films like Singin’ in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as inspirations. Were those references that you were familiar with?

100%. I love all the big Hollywood blockbuster movies like Singin’ in the Rain. I remember going onto set and seeing the room for the first time and the little boy in me was just like, “Wow!” because it was just this massive space that was half pink, half blue and it just looked like one of those old Hollywood scenes. When the cameras are rolling and you’re running around doing your steps, that was me living my little six-year-old dancing dream.

Did you get to interact with Ryan Gosling and the other Kens?

Simu [Liu] came into rehearsals, so we met him briefly. It wasn’t until the day of the shoot that we got to meet Ryan and the core unit of Kens. They were really sweet. I didn’t speak to Ryan one-on-one but [was close enough] to the point where you could reach out. I didn’t! But they were really pleasant. At the end of the day, we were all dancing Kens singing about being ‘just Ken.’ Everyone was on the same level, which was really nice.

Liam Riddick on the set of Barbie
Liam Riddick on the set of Barbie (Image: Provided)

Can you listen to ‘I’m Just Ken’ now?

I hadn’t heard it for a year [since we filmed it]. When the soundtrack came out, all the memories came rushing back. It took me straight back to all the happy times that we had.

Is there a standout moment from the experience?

I think that moment [being] on set and the little boy in me who loves big musical films. And having that moment to yourself before they call “Action” and the realisation of being a part of it was magic to me. It was giving my younger self that present in a way to say: “You’ve done it. Look at you now.”

Barbie is in cinemas now.