Greta Gerwig - American actress, screenwriter and director

Greta Gerwig - American actress, screenwriter and director

Greta Gerwig is an American actress, screenwriter and director. First establishing herself in the Hollywood industry as an actress, she gradually made her way behind the camera, first as a screenwriter and then as a director. Today, Gerwig is considered a leading figure of independent cinema and a feminist icon in a still predominantly male industry.


She first made her mark in the early 2000s, working on several mumblecore films, a sub-genre of American independent cinema characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue, and low-budget productions. Between 2006 and 2009, she starred in a number of Joe Swanberg's films, some of which she co-wrote and co-directed.


In 2012, she collaborated with her partner Noah Baumbach on the film "Frances Ha", for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.


It was in 2017 that she confirmed her talents as a director with the film "Lady Bird", nominated for no fewer than sixteen awards, including BAFTA Awards, Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Of these sixteen nominations, Gerwig won six. At the 2018 Oscars, she was nominated for Best Director, making her the first woman in eight years, and one of only five women in the ceremony's history, to be nominated in this category.


Two years later, Gerwig re-established herself in the Hollywood industry with "Little Women", an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel of the same name.


Inspired by her own experiences, Gerwig states that she tends "to start with things from [her] own life, then pretty quickly they spin out into their own orbit". She also encourages her actors to incorporate some of their own personalities into their performances, and says of her writing and directing that "it's all about actors". However, she remains very attached to the script and leaves little room for improvisation.


Named in 2018 to the annual Time 100 list of the world's most influential people, she confirms this title in 2023 with her new directorial achievement, the fantasy comedy "Barbie", co-written with Noah Baumbach. Based on Mattel's Barbie dolls, this is Barbie's first live-action film, after numerous animated features.

The film quickly became an international success, making Greta Gerwig the first female solo director in the world to break the billion-dollar box-office milestone, after just 17 days in theaters.


Made by a woman, for women, about women, "Barbie" is already an ode to feminism and equality, in which Gerwig takes great pleasure in deconstructing the image of the stereotypical doll, and highlighting the potential and voice of all women.

"I want the movie to make people feel somewhat relieved of the tightrope. We ask ourselves — not just as women, men too — that we walk this impossible tightrope of being perfect. Barbie has always been a symbol of this thing that you could never reach because she physically couldn't stand up if she were a human being. So I wanted it to almost invert that formula and find a way that it gave you permission to just be yourself and know that that's enough. [...] Barbie as an idea, as a brand, had this mission statement of inspiring girls to be whatever they wanted to be as adult women. And then I think it's very important to have an adult woman talk about all of the kind of impossible contradictions." – Greta Gerwig,, 21 juillet 2023


In an interview for RollingStone magazine (July 3, 2023), Gerwig comments on the film's "feminist" label. For her, it's more a matter of "humanism", as the idea she wishes to convey is not of one sex reigning over the other, but of finding a balance, to live together on an equal footing.

"I think of the film as humanist above anything else. How Barbie operates in Barbieland is she’s entirely continuous with her environment. Even the houses have no walls, because you never need to hide because there’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed of. And suddenly finding yourself in the real world and wishing you could hide, that’s the essence of being human. […] Of course, I am a feminist. But this movie is also dealing with [the idea that] any kind of hierarchical power structure that moves in any direction isn’t so great. You go to Mattel and it is really like, “Oh, Barbie has been president since 1991. Barbie had gone to the moon before women could get credit cards.” We kind of extrapolated out from that that Barbieland is this reversed world [where Barbies rule and Kens are an underclass]. The reverse structure of whatever Barbieland is, is almost like Planet of the Apes. You can see how unfair this is for the Kens because it’s totally unsustainable."


***SPOILERS. The following paragraph contains detailed informations about the end of the movie "Barbie".


Gerwig also talks, in an interview for USA Today Entertainment (July 22, 2023), about the film's final scene and Barbie's ending line when, entering a building for what appears to be a job interview, she arrives beaming in front of a receptionist's desk and utters these few words: "I'm here to see my gynecologist".

"With this film, it was important for me that everything operated on at least two levels. I knew I wanted to end on a mic drop kind of joke, but I also find it very emotional. When I was a teenage girl, I remember growing up and being embarrassed about my body, and just feeling ashamed in a way that I couldn't even describe. It felt like everything had to be hidden. And then to see Margot [Robbie] as Barbie, with this big old smile on her face, saying what she says at the end with such happiness and joy. I was like – if I can give girls that feeling of, 'Barbie does it, too' – that’s both funny and emotional. There are so many things like that throughout the movie. It was always about looking for the levity and the heart."


With her film "Barbie", Gerwig brings up to date a toy that was first created to give little girls the power to dream and be whatever they wanted, and was then manipulated and sexualized by the patriarchal society to confine them into gendered and discriminatory stereotypes. By humanizing Barbie, Gerwig gives a voice back to women and breathes new life into the original idea of Ruth Handler, the creator of the iconic doll.


Screenwriter and director of all her productions, Greta Gerwig embodies success at every level, and opens a new door not only for women in the film industry, but for young girls and women everywhere, whatever their field or dream.


© Article by Julie Henry Poutrel for Adama Toulon.

© Photo: UKinUSA - CC BY-SA 2.5