‘Barbie’ Editor Nick Huoy Describes Cut Scene of Ken Fighting a Bear

TheWrap magazine: “We had so much more that was really funny, but you gotta get through it quicker for the sake of the narrative,” Nick Huoy says

"Barbie"
"Barbie" (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery)

For “Barbie” editor Nick Houy, his work went beyond telling a narrative and veered into the inner workings of humanity, from what makes a man a man to how we celebrate the finite nature of our existence. Huoy felt that the script set up the beats of feeling for the characters — where they laugh, where they cry — but to tell something as nuanced as what Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach put in their screenplay required a delicate balance between when a moment needed to be personal and when it needed to be parody. 

The parody often came through in the sequences featuring Ryan Gosling’s Ken and Will Ferrell’s dimwitted Mattel CEO, and in the elaborate and cartoony journey from Barbie Land to the real world. “We always felt that almost everything in the real world is a parody of an ’80s movie,” Houy said. “Everything the Mattel executives do in order to travel to Barbie Land is supposed to be a silly version of what would happen in one of those ’80s movies. We worked really hard on cutting those down and keeping them quick. We had so much more that was really funny, but you gotta get through it quicker for the sake of the narrative.”

That often came at the expense of killing some hilarious moments, especially one involving Ken. Houy described one scene during Ken and Barbie’s travels to the real world when the pair stop at a Barbie campsite. “It was a beautiful two dimensional painted set,” said Houy. “And Ryan was wrestling with a bear. I wanted to keep that, but we never were able to (because it was) too long. But it was really fun.” 

Nick Houy (Jeff Vespa/TheWrap)

Houy was able to do a lot with Ken’s first interaction with “the patriarchy.” In a hilarious sequence taking place in Century City, California, Ken sees numerous interpretations of masculinity, culminating in footage of Sylvester Stallone in a mink coat. “I made a bunch of versions of different things that could play in Century City to explain to somebody who’s never been to the world before what it’s really like, to the nth degree.” As Houy explained, that montage changed during production. Initially, they had prepared a fake Nike commercial about men as an ad for patriarchy, with Huoy himself providing the voiceover.

For the editor, the most meaningful sequence is the final montage, when Barbie decides to become human. Houy originally used stock footage for the sequence, but swapped in the crew’s home movies. Only then, when it became “personal to us,” did he feel that he feel that the sequence conveyed the movie’s themes of humanity. “That’s very meaningful to me — what you have to go through as a daughter or mother or a grandmother and what it means to accept life,” he said. 

The challenge was finding the most haunting and/or beautiful moments in everyone’s footage. “There’s one (scene) where it’s my assistant editor’s aunt standing in this field and the old Super 8 film is really degraded after years of being in a basement,” he said. “It’s just unbelievably beautiful. And she turns quickly towards the camera and we punch in on her face as the wind is blowing through this field. You never could have shot something that beautiful, cutting to the core of what it is to be a person and have a family and have loss and just exist in the world.” As Houy said, the fact that an audience can leave a huge comedy like Barbie crying and mulling over their own existence is something he feels proud to have accomplished.

This story first appeared in the Below the Line issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine. Read the rest of the “Barbie” below-the-line stories here.

Read more from the Below-the-Line issue here.

Greta Gerwig and Barbie below-the-line team
Photo by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap

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