Greta Gerwig Is Not Slowing Down After ‘Barbie’ Success: “It’s Really Scary to Feel Idle”

Greta Gerwig Is Not Slowing Down After ‘Barbie’ Success: “It’s Really Scary to Feel Idle”

After the box office success of her monster hit Barbie, Greta Gerwig says she doesn’t want to stop directing movies.

“I want to do this into my 70s. I think it was (François) Truffaut who said, ‘Sometimes, quantity is impressive.’ I know what he means. I just want to be thought of as, like: She’s good. She can do it,” Gerwig told Vanity Fair, in a magazine profile with the director that published on Monday.

Barbie has earned over $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. She’s next attached to direct a feature film version of The Chronicles of Narnia for Netflix.  

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That’s after Gerwig transitioned from acting to getting behind the camera on critical hits like Lady Bird and Little Women. But the secret of her success as a director, Gerwig insisted, is keeping busy.

“It’s more that it’s really scary to feel idle,” she admitted in the profile. “At some point, the terror of never making anything becomes much bigger than the terror of making something bad.”

Despite her Hollywood success, that feeling of self-doubt has Gerwig not reading any reviews for Barbie, yet. She also recounts the tremors she felt tackling the story of the 64-year-old toy doll.

“Honestly, there was nothing but fear around all of it from the outset. You’re dealing with a topic that is already so filled with opinions. But the trick is to say, well, instead of trying to tiptoe around it, what if we just stepped in it? And the whole undertaking was definitely like, ‘Drive it like you stole it. Go, go, go. Don’t tell them, don’t tell them where we’re going,’” she said.

The longtime partner of fellow director Noah Baumbach, with whom she had two sons, added that parenting is like directing films. “By the time you get to the end of a movie, you know how to direct that movie. You learn how to do it while you’re doing it, but then it’s over, the moment’s gone. And kids are like movies. You’ve never had this one before, you just don’t know what it’s got up its sleeve,” Gerwig said.  

And despite being in the Barbie bubble for much of the last year or two, Gerwig has cast an eye to fast-paced industry changes as a writer, director and actor. She admitted to being “luckier than a lot of people in terms of not having truly traumatic things happen” in regards to sexual harassment in Hollywood amid the #MeToo era revelations.

Living in New York City, as opposed to Los Angeles, allowed her to be somewhat insulated from the industry, she said. “I get to use the studio system, but I don’t have to live in it. And I’m conscious of not wanting to be too attached to what Hollywood thinks is a good or bad idea, because I don’t want to know if my idea is ridiculous. And when you live in L..A, you know everybody. They all know each other’s lawyers. I often don’t know who the powerful person in the room is.”

She also added that she welcomes the introduction of intimacy directors on film sets, sparked from that era: “They make perfect sense. It’s like a fight choreographer. Nobody would ever say, ‘Just take these swords and see what happens, just duel a little and see where the spirit takes you.’ That’s insane.”