For Margot Robbie and filmmaker Greta Gerwig, deciding on the final line of Barbie was a battle with some of their partners.

During the annual Producers Guild of America breakfast, Robbie was asked about any creative guardrails put in place by toy company Mattel over what Barbie could or could not say and do in the Warner Bros. feature. She started by recalling questions executives had over the script, including what it meant when Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu’s versions of Ken say they are going to “beach each other off.

“’When they beach each other off, what does that mean?’ We were like, ‘What do you think that means?’” Robbie said to laughs from the crowd, before touching on the final line of the movie, “I’m here to see my gynecologist.” 

Continued Robbie: “Or it could be something like ending the movie on the gynecologist line, which we were fighting for, for days before we picture-locked. That was still a fight. It was just picking the hills to die on, I suppose, but always having a conversation no matter what, and being in it together.”

Robbie said that Mattel had to sign off on the treatment but not the script of the film, which was a challenge because screenwriters Gerwig and Noah Baumbach did not typically write treatments and were hesitant to do so at first. She also noted that, in the end, everyone had the same goal in mind. Said Robbie, “It was never about, ‘We have to fight Mattel. We have to fight Warner Bros.’ We all are in this together and want to make a great film.”

The breakfast at the Skirball Cultural Center honored producers from the films nominated for the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award. The other attendees for the Q&A session included Emma Stone (Poor Things), Ben LeClair (American Fiction), Mark Johnson (The Holdovers), Daniel Lupi (Killers of the Flower Moon), Bradley Cooper (Maestro), Charles Roven (Oppenheimer), Christine Vachon (Past Lives) and The Zone of Interest (James Wilson). Anatomy of the Fall did not have a producer present as they were abroad for the Cesar Awards.

Cooper, who wrote, directed, starred in and produced Maestro, got laughs from the crowd for joking about his film’s demanding director. “The biggest challenge by far was the fucking director,” Cooper said. “He had these crazy demands, like shooting in black and white 35mm stock on a 1:3:31 aspect ratio. Half the movie in black and white … wanting to be on location. We were losing our minds!”

Stone was asked about how, as a producer, she protected herself as an actor in Poor Things given its racy scenes.

“In some ways, that was the easiest part. That was choreographed,” said Stone. “Figuring out how to walk or eat 60 Portuguese tarts” was “much more challenging than the nudity, which is the only thing people seem to want to ask me about!” She added, to laughs: “I get it. It’s provocative or whatever.”

Oppenheimer producer Roven said the most challenging part of producing the biopic was reading the 721-page tome, American Prometheus. It took him a while to finish, but after he did, he suggested the book to Nolan during a weekend getaway with their families. As it turned out, Robert Pattinson’s character in Nolan’s film Tenet quoted J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. So, Nolan agreed to read the book.

“Three weeks later he called me up and said, ‘I’m in,’” Roven recalled. “Once Chris Nolan is in, it’s pretty hard to say no to him. A couple of months later, he finished the script, and we went out.” It ultimately landed at Universal, which snatched Nolan up after he departed his longtime home Warner Bros.

The top PGA honor, which will be announced Sunday, is considered the most informative when it comes to the best picture Oscar race. Previous winners of the prize that have won the top Academy Award include Everything Everywhere All at Once, CODA, Nomadland, Greenbook and The Shape of Water.

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