Ryan Gosling Said ‘100% No’ When First Asked to Sing ‘I’m Just Ken’ Live at the Oscars Because ‘There’s a Lot of Ways That Could Go Wrong’

Ryan Gosling at the Oscars 2024
Rich Polk for Variety

Ryan Gosling visited “The Tonight Show” ahead of his latest hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live” and spoke about his internet-breaking live performance of “I’m Just Ken” at the Oscars last month. Asked by host Jimmy Fallon if it was an immediate yes when the Academy called him up to request he perform the “Barbie” original song live during the ceremony, Gosling said his answer was “100% no.”

“There’s a lot of ways that could go wrong,” Gosling said.

But the performance went very right. Gosling, bathed in pink lighting and wearing a sparkling pink suit and pink gloves, started singing “I’m Just Ken” while in the audience sitting behind Margot Robbie. He then made his way to the stage, where he was joined by Mark Ronson and Slash on guitars. His fellow Ken actors Simu Liu, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa and Kingsley Ben-Adir joined the armada of backup dancers behind Gosling. At one point, the actor made his way back into the audience and held the microphone up to his “Barbie” collaborators Greta Gerwig, Robbie and America Ferrera, who were all singing along with him. He also tapped his “La La Land” co-star Emma Stone to sing along, too.

“Ryan Gosling is a true professional, that man — we met with him on Zooms months ago, talking about that performance,” Oscars producer Molly McNearney told Variety after the ceremony. “Greta Gerwig weighed in creatively as well. He was so committed to it. His choreographer, Mandy Moore, is exceptional — she was on all the calls. So was Mark Ronson.”

Moore added that Gosling was “pretty clear about his overall structure of it. He wanted to start in the audience, come up, see Mark, see Andrew [Wyatt the co-producer], ignite the Ken-delabras and then join the 10 dejected Kens on the stairs. From there he wanted the rest of the number to evolve as if Kens were coming from everywhere, ‘Calling All Kens.’ Eventually ending in a huge celebration revealing Slash.”

According to McNearney, it was Gosling’s idea to make the number a tribute to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, there was mystery over whether or not Gosling would take the stage to perform “I’m Just Ken” live. He opted not to sing the “La La Land” song “City of Stars” at the 2017 Oscars, where his co-star John Legend performed the single instead. Gosling didn’t confirm his involvement in performing at the Oscars until just a few weeks before the Academy Award ceremony.

Watch Gosling’s full interview on “The Tonight Show” in the video below.

From Variety US