Why All Those Kens In Barbie Looked So Familiar (And Allan Too!)

The "Barbie" movie has been killing it at the box office since it premiered on July 21, 2023. At the end of its second week, it had earned nearly $775 million worldwide with strong domestic box office sales. Its robust sales have made it one of the highest-grossing films of the year, and its performance is one of the best second-weekend sales in movie history, according to Axios. It topped the market in 57 countries around the world plus the movie is already winning awards. The Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards gave it a nod as the Most Anticipated Film of 2023, and the movie's director, Greta Gerwig, was given a Golden Trailer Award for the film's teaser.

While the marketing team can definitely take some of the credit for the movie's success — pink luggage, pink furniture, and even pink sauce at Burger King's in Brazil — the phenomenal cast can also take a bow for their part in breaking box office records. Margot Robbie has been donning classic Barbie looks while hitting the various red carpets, and everyone else has been showing up in style as well.

And while we all love the beautiful Barbies that graced the screen, the men did tend to steal the show in several parts of the film — especially during that choreographed musical number. But why do all those Kens look familiar? Keep reading to find out which actors were bringing the Ken-ergy!

Ryan Gosling: Stereotypical Ken

Ryan Gosling is probably the most recognizable Ken in the film as his acting career has spanned decades, starting in 1993 on "The Mickey Mouse Club." The Canadian native appeared in a couple of TV series in the late 90s, but Gosling proved his acting chops in a 2001 film called "The Believer" which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination and an award from the Russian Guild of Film Critics. However, most fans really took notice when he landed the role of Noah in "The Notebook" in 2004, and shortly after was included on the 50 Hottest Bachelors list by People magazine. He later played a vain pickup artist named Jacob Palmer in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" opposite Steve Carell and Emma Stone, proving he had comedy skills. 

Gosling is also known for the films "Drive," "Blade Runner 2049," and "Blue Valentine" — all of which were critically acclaimed. However, it was his work in "Half Nelson" that really cemented him in the realm of A-list actors. Over the years, Gosling has been nominated for over 150 awards including two Best Actor nominations by the Academy. He has won over 30 awards including a Golden Globe for his work in the musical "La La Land," which also starred Emma Stone.

Kingsley Ben-Adir: Ken #1

Kingsley Ben-Adir may not be as recognizable as Ryan Gosling, but the London-born actor has been on the scene for over a decade. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has starred in several theatre productions across the pond. He is most recognizable for his role as a Marvel villain in the "Secret Invasion" series with Samuel L. Jackson. However, the Marvel show wasn't his first series work. Ben-Adir was also on "Peaky Blinders" where he appeared in five episodes as Col. Ben Younger, and has six episodes of work on the Netflix show "The OA". On Hulu, he had a recurring role in the adapted series "High Fidelity" as the ex-boyfriend of Zoë Kravitz's lead character.

Ben-Adir has been nominated for multiple awards for his work on Regina King's drama "One Night in Miami..." where he played Malcolm X. He also won an Independent Spirit Award and a San Francisco Film Award. In 2021, he was named in the British GQ Men Of The Year list as a Boss Breakthrough Actor. On the horizon, he has a starring role in the upcoming Bob Marley biopic as the legendary singer. The film is slated for a 2024 release, and Ziggy Marley, Bob Marley's son, is one of the producers of the film.

Simu Liu: Ken #2

Simu Liu is a Canadian actor, writer, and producer. He is most well-known for portraying the titular character in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." The Marvel film was a smash hit earning $29.6 million on opening day and eventually breaching $400 million — without releasing in China as the film was banned there until 2023. Before Liu became part of the Marvel universe, he was already incredibly busy filming 65 episodes of "Kim's Convenience," a show about a Korean-Canadian family who owns a convenience store. Liu played Jung, the Kims' son.

However, his portrayal of Ken in "Barbie" may have launched Liu into a new stratosphere as he has several projects in various stages of production as of 2023, including a Shang-Chi sequel and an adventure film with Mark Wahlberg called "Arthur the King." He is also credited in the new Avenger movie currently in development that is set to release in 2027. Liu has won several awards including two Canadian Screen Awards and a People's Choice Award.

In addition to his acting credits, Liu has also garnered a handful of writer, director, producer, and stunt performer credits. But film isn't the only art he is interested in. Liu is also a singer. His newest single titled "Don't" was released in April 2023.

Scott Evans: Ken #3

If Scott Evans looks familiar, it may be because he has been in 137 episodes of the daytime soap "One Life to Live" portraying Oliver Fish, or maybe it's because he had a recurring role in the Netflix hit "Grace and Frankie." Evans also appeared in one episode of "Insecure" with "Barbie" alum, Issa Rae. But it's also likely some may find him familiar because he resembles his brother Captain America — Chris Evans of Marvel fame.

The younger Evans had doubts about his ability to land one of the Ken roles. He confessed to Out about his worries before auditioning which carried over to his first day on set, saying he had "a huge sense of impostor syndrome, knowing who else was a part of the movie." But director Greta Gerwig calmed his fears in a text message where she told him how funny he made his scenes and how fun he was to watch. Evans was stoked about the praise from Gerwig: "Even if she was blowing smoke up my a**, I still think about framing that text message."

Ncuti Gatwa: Ken #4

Ncuti Gatwa was born in Rwanda and grew up in Scotland where he graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2013. The classically trained actor was nominated for an Ian Charleson Award the following year for his Mercutio performance in "Romeo & Juliet" at the HOME Arts Centre in Manchester, England. He made the jump to the screen shortly after and landed the breakout role of Eric Effiong in the Netflix show "Sex Education." His portrayal of the gay teen earned him 15 award nominations and four wins, including the Best Actor in Television award from the BAFTA Scotland Award and won a Comedy Performance award from the Royal Television Society. 

Whovians will recognize Gatwa as the upcoming 15th Doctor on the long-running BBC sci-fi series "Doctor Who." Gatwa will take over the TARDIS in late 2023 — after a three-episode arc featuring David Tennant. But even landing the iconic Timelord role couldn't thrill the actor as much as hanging with the "Barbie" cast. Gatwa told Rolling Stone UK about "one of the best nights" of his life — when Margot Robbie took the Barbies and Kens to see "Magic Mike Live" in London. "I don't know how I made it through any filming in the week after, my voice was gone from screaming so much," he said, calling Robbie the "queen of the vibes."

John Cena: Kenmaid

While his appearance in the "Barbie" movie was short, it definitely made a splash! John Cena played the mermaid version of Ken with flowing blond locks and a mermaid tail. His appearance in the film was a coincidence as he happened to be filming with the "Fast & Furious" franchise across the street and spoke with star Margot Robbie about doing a cameo. He told the Today show: "It was a happy accident" that he ended up as a Ken. 

Cena was a WWE superstar before launching his acting career, but he has definitely made a name for himself onscreen as well. In 2021, he became part of the DC Universe as the character Peacemaker in "The Suicide Squad" film with Robbie, who plays another icon: Harley Quinn. As a result, Cena's character got his own spinoff show on HBO Max. He was also in "Trainwreck" with Amy Schumer and played himself in "Fighting with My Family." Cena has voiced a slew of animated characters as well. His voice credits include the polar bear Yoshi in 2020's "Dolittle," the titular character in "Ferdinand," and Hulk in a Marvel video game.

Tom Stourton: Earring Magic Ken

Even if you don't recognize Tom Stourton's face, the younger generations are likely to recognize his voice. The British actor has voiced several "Thomas & Friends" characters including the train named Duncan, the excavator named Alfie, and Terence the tractor. Stourton briefly appeared in the highly-anticipated "Barbie" movie as Earring Magic Ken — a discontinued Ken that Out magazine has referred to as an "iconic gay."

Stourton's face has graced the silver screen prior to "Barbie," however. He played Edward Snowden in the comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me" with Kate McKinnon who plays Weird Barbie, and he had a role in the time travel tear-jerker "About Time." Additionally, he can be seen in one episode in Series 9 of "Doctor Who" with Peter Capaldi.

Stourton has played various characters in 20 episodes of the British comedy show "Horrible Histories" which won several awards, including BAFTAs, and Stourton was personally nominated for his work on the show in 2018. He has three projects currently in post-production as of 2023 and is credited as a writer on two television episodes and one film.

Rob Brydon: Sugar Daddy Ken

Rob Brydon graced the "Barbie" screen as Sugar Daddy Ken — yes, that was a real Ken doll. Technically called "Sugar's Daddy Ken" because he had a dog named "Sugar," Mattel included him as part of a Palm Beach line of toys meant for adult collectors. The actor who played him is likely more recognizable than his character, however. The Welsh comedian can be seen in "The Huntsman: Winter's War" and in 24 episodes of the improvised comedy series called "The Trip." His voiceover credits are also quite long.

Brydon has received many award nominations including five BAFTAs. He won a Network Newcomer award from the Royal Television Society for his portrayal of Keith Barret in "Marion & Geoff" and was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2013 for his services to Comedy and Broadcasting and for his charitable services. Fun fact: He also attended secondary school with fellow Welsh actor Catherine Zeta-Jones.

David Mumeni: Footrub Ken

London-born David Mumeni briefly appears in "Barbie" as Footrub Ken. While he may be new to American audiences, British television watchers have been seeing his face for years. He played a recurring character on "Stath Lets Flats," a BAFTA-winning show, and also appeared in "Dead Pixels" and "Drifters." Americans may recognize him from small parts in blockbusters like "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" or "Mission: Impossible – Fallout."

While his acting career is certainly taking off with his inclusion as one of the Kens, Mumeni also spends time running a nonprofit called Open Door. The program helps underprivileged youth receive acting training. "We need to support young people who may not know that they can access this training, or even that it exists," Mumeni said of his mission in an interview with the National Youth Theatre. "It's important they know there is a place in the industry for them."

Michael Cera: Allan

Another Canadian actor, Michael Cera gave a hilarious performance in "Barbie" as Allan, but this isn't his only iconic role. His credit list is extensive since the actor started his career before he was even a teenager. He starred alongside Jonah Hill in the 2007 comedy "Superbad" and famously portrayed the titular character in the cult classic "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" in 2010.

From 2003 to 2019, Cera portrayed George Michael Bluth in the quirky comedy series "Arrested Development" with Jason Bateman. Moreover, you may remember his infamous moment in "This Is the End" where he slapped Rihanna's butt, and she slapped his face in return. Cera told Rolling Stone (via Billboard) that he was totally on board with the hit: "I just thought it would look a lot better than a fake slap would because you can really feel it. It just looks a lot funnier!"

Cera has been nominated for almost 30 different awards including three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for "Arrested Development" and won a Best Actor Canadian Comedy Award for his work in "Superbad." In addition to starring in projects like "Juno," Cera has also tried his hand as a director with three short film credits and one episode of a TV series. He currently has seven upcoming projects as of publication, including a Scott Pilgrim animated series. Cera has also done voiceover work in several big projects including "The LEGO Batman Movie" and "The Simpsons."