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July 26, 2023

Heart of 'Barbie' movie is scene between Margot Robbie and renowned costume designer from Pa., director says

Oscar-winner Ann Roth, whose work has appeared in more than 100 productions, shares a sweet moment with the film's main character

Entertainment Movies
barbie ann roth Warner Bros. Pictures/Youtube

Ann Roth, 91, from York County, Pennsylvania, is an Academy Award winning costume designer. She has a pivotal cameo in Greta Gerwig's 'Barbie' in a scene alongside Margot Robbie.

Along with its star-studded cast, dazzling musical numbers and a lot of pink, Greta Gerwig's blockbuster "Barbie" movie also paints quiet, introspective moments. One such scene stars Ann Roth, a 91-year-old, entertainment-industry staple from Pennsylvania.

Roth, who hails from Hanover, York County, is a costume designer with more than 100 credits to her name in film, TV and theater. She has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning for "The English Patient" (1996) and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (2020). (NOTE: Spoilers for "Barbie" are ahead.)

During her "Barbie" cameo, Roth reads a newspaper on a bench beside Barbie (Margot Robbie), who is perfectly coifed but going through a bit of an identity crisis. Barbie tells Roth that she is beautiful, to which she replies, "I know" in a confident, matter-of-fact tone that leads to the women sharing a smile and a laugh.

“The idea of a loving God who's a mother, a grandmother — who looks at you and says, 'Honey, you're doing OK' — is something I feel like I need and I wanted to give to other people," Gerwig told the New York Times.

When it came time to cast an actor for the bench scene, Gerwig tapped her friend Roth, who along with collaborating with top directors like Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan has worked with Gerwig's real-life partner Noah Baumbach on three films

Roth grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, working at a 5-&-dime store as a teen before attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After graduating in 1953, she apprenticed for famed costume designer Irene Sharaff, working on films like Judy Garland's "A Star Is Born," which helped launched her own successful career in Hollywood and Broadway.

The "Barbie" scene featuring Roth, which Gerwig calls "the heart of the movie," almost didn't make it to the final cut, the director told Rolling Stone.

“It's a cul-de-sac of a moment, in a way — it doesn't lead anywhere. And in early cuts, looking at the movie, it was suggested, 'Well, you could cut it. And actually, the story would move on just the same.' And I said, 'If I cut the scene, I don't know what this movie is about.'"

Despite her important role, Roth told the New York Times she'd be forgoing any kind of fancy, pink-carpeted premiere for the film and instead would be seeing "Barbie" at a theater on Route 248, a highway that runs north of Allentown.

"I live in Pennsylvania. I haven't seen pink in a long time," Roth said about the spiking popularity of the color as a result of the film.

Along with Robbie in the titular role and Ryan Gosling as Ken, the “Barbie" cast has Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Issa Rae and Michael Cera. The film follows Mattel's main doll on a journey from "Barbie Land" to the real world.

"Barbie," which opened July 21 — on the same day as Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer," fueling the "Barbenheimer" craze — has hit $400 million globally in ticket sales and sits at an impressive 90% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Haven't seen "Barbie" yet (or already eager for a subsequent viewing)? Join hordes of moviegoers (dressed in pink, of course) flocking to theaters everywhere.

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