The buzzword followed Barbiepossibly the hottest film of the summer, since Ryan Gosling coined the term when asked about the role while promoting his 2022 action flick The gray man. “I have this Ken-ergy,” proclaimed Gosling, whose gray man the character is coincidentally referred to as “a Ken doll” by rival Chris Evans, in an interview with entertainment tonight.
Gosling, who plays the most visible male dolls in the life of Margot Robbie’s main Barbie, and who seems to have about a thousand times more fun promoting the Mattel-inspired comedy than he has with any of his previous projects, has doubled down on the concept since.
“Until now, I only knew Ken from afar. I didn’t know Ken from the inside,” a deadpan Gosling said at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, stealing the Warner Bros. panel. “I doubted my Ken-ergie. I have not seen it. … I was living my life and the next thing I knew, I was bleaching my hair and shaving my legs and rollerblading on Venice Beach.
So what is Ken-ergy?
While bursting with joy every time he drops the catchy phrase, Gosling offered no easy explanation or definition when asked about it during a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment. Instead, he pivots to Robbie for the assist.
“I don’t know how to articulate it, really,” says Robbie (see above). “I think it’s definitely a game on BDE [“big d**k energy], it was a real acronym commonly used not so long ago. And you hear that and you’re kind of like, ‘Yeah, we all know that. … We know where you’re coming from.’”
Gosling’s other famous co-stars offered conflicting takes. “I think it’s a lot of nothing,” Issa Rae said bluntly. Michael Cera described it as more of a vibe, believing this was reflected in the intense on-set ping-pong competition between all the actors playing various Kens. And Kate McKinnon went psychoanalytic: “I think it’s an acknowledgment of how masculinity under patriarchy limits,” the formerSNL The star said before snapping, “And their outfits proved it because they looked really stupid.”
Even director and co-writer Greta Gerwig struggled with the concept, ultimately bringing it back to Gosling. “He said, and I think it’s true, ‘You know it when you see Ken-ergy, but to put it in words, it’s really to decrease Ken-ergy.'”
When pressed, Gosling finally weighed in with a surprisingly geeky comparison that he immediately had to translate to a puzzled Robbie: It’s like mountaineerthe movie and TV series about an age-old war between immortal warriors.
As the Highlanders “know when they’re in the room with each other,” Gosling argued, you know Ken-ergy when you see him.
Barbie opens July 18.
Watch the trailer: