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Why The Viral Oscars 'I'm Just Ken' Performance Actually Started With Ryan Gosling Behind Margot Robbie In The Audience

 Ryan Gosling singing I'm Just Ken, sitting behind Margot Robbie at the 2024 Oscars.
Ryan Gosling singing I'm Just Ken, sitting behind Margot Robbie at the 2024 Oscars.

There were plenty of winners at the 2024 Oscars, where Oppenheimer took home seven awards, including Best Picture. However, the real winners of the night were arguably the audience members, who got to witness Ryan Gosling perform “I’m Just Ken'' live. He and the creative team pulled out all the stops, as the musical number had references to Marilyn Monoe, featured the actors who played the “Kens” in Barbie and included an appearance from Slash. Now, we have insight into why  the viral performance started with Gosling behind co-star Margot Robbie in the audience.

Details on the show-stopping event come by way of the New York Times, which interviewed some of the creative minds behind the big moment. According to the piece, every decision was very thought out and discussed. That includes the choice for Ryan Gosling to begin singing the song while sitting behind Margot Robbie and wearing a cowboy hat. Choreographer Mandy Moore was included in the NYT piece and explained that the concept was actually Gosling’s idea. Apparently, he wanted to visually represent how Ken was always behind Barbie in the film and unable to establish an identity of his own as a result.

This was a great decision for many reasons. Of course, having a visual metaphor relating to the film is brilliant, and the actor deserves kudos for that. However, fans also got to see Margot Robbie try (and fail) to keep herself from laughing during the performance. Hers was only one of several great audience reactions to “I’m Just Ken.” The song is objectively silly, and the Nice Guys actor can surely ham it up when he wants to. To see him give his all while belting out the ballad was hilarious and mesmerizing, and it totally highlights his talent as a performer.


The Barbie actress/producer got her moment to shine again later on during the spectacle. That was when her co-star turned the microphone onto her, Greta Gerwig, and fellow nominee America Ferrera to sing the song along with him. According to Mandy Moore, this idea was also the Drive star’s. He wanted to highlight as many of the creatives involved with the movie as possible, including Andrew Wyatt and Mark Ronson, who were the musicians behind the film's music.

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie were infamously snubbed for directing and acting nominations, but Ryan Gosling himself received a nod for Best Supporting actor. Turning the microphone on the women behind the project feels like the La La Land star was metaphorically showcasing the real architects of the film that got “Ken” on the Oscars stage.

Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, and Greta Gerwig singing at the 2024 Oscars
Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, and Greta Gerwig singing at the 2024 Oscars

Just like Barbie, the “I’m Just Ken” Oscars performance was more than meets the eye. Audiences got to enjoy a fun, silly and outrageous musical number, but this report conveys just how much work and thought went into making this moment memorable. Filled with metaphor and visual motifs, the live showing was the perfect way to represent the box office-dominant film at the Oscars. The movie may have only taken home one award (Best Original Song), but I wager that it'll long remain in the public consciousness as will Ryan Gosling's A+ work at the Oscars, which was bolstered by his creative decisions.

You can check out his electric performance now on YouTube. Fans can also experience how the song is featured in Barbie, which is streaming now for Max subscribers. The Crazy, Stupid, Love actor has also put out a number of different versions of “I’m Just Ken,” so make sure to check them out now on Spotify and Apple Music.