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Ryan Gosling on SNL: Watch the Sketch That Inspired Greta Gerwig to Cast Him as Ken

On April 13, Gosling returns for a third time to host SNL — which is where the Barbie director first noticed his gift for comedy. 

By Samantha Vincenty

Over the span of a Hollywood career dating back to childhood, Ryan Gosling has earned three Oscar nominations: two for dramatic roles in Half Nelson and La La Land, and one for a performance that zagged in the complete opposite direction, playing the hilariously un-self-aware Ken doll in Greta Gerwig's hit 2023 Barbie movie. 

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

Gosling's long resume prior to Barbie includes several comedic turns, such as his delightful work in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Emma Stone. He's also dazzled in films that mix action and comedy like The Nice Guys (and his upcoming movie The Fall Guy). And, of course, there's Gosling's work as a Saturday Night Live Host, with his third turn coming on April 13. 

When it came to casting Gosling as Ken, it was actually the latter that made Gerwig think the Canadian actor was the right man for the job. Specifically, a  "Weekend Update" bit alongside a recurring character. 

Or at least that's what Gerwig told Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes during an episode of their Smartless podcast recorded in June 2023. 

RELATED: Ryan Gosling and Mikey Day's Beavis and Butt-Head Cracked Up the SNL Cast

Ryan Gosling as Guy Who Just Joined SoHo House, Alex Moffat as A Guy Who Just Bought a Boat, Colin Jost during "Weekend Update" in studio 8H on September 30, 2017

Greta Gerwig cast Ryan Gosling after loving him on "Weekend Update"

Weekend Update: Guy Who Just Bought a Boat on Dating

During Gosling's September 30, 2017 episode of SNL, he joined Season 43 cast member Alex Moffat in a "Weekend Update" segment called "Guy Who Just Bought a Boat on Dating."

Gosling played Guy's preppy cousin, Guy Who Just Joined Soho House. (For the unfamiliar, Soho House is a members-only club with locations around the world that, like a boat, is considered a marker of status to some.) The overconfident Guys were there to provide some wordplay-heavy dating advice, despite it soon becoming clear they had no idea what they were talking about. 

RELATED: Ryan Gosling and Jimmy Fallon Deserve Oscars for Playing Identical-Looking Tough Cops

When Gerwig recorded her Smartless episode, she and the rest of the world had yet to find out what a major cultural sensation the movie would become upon its July 2023 release. In addition to his Best Supporting Actor nod, the "I'm Just Ken" song he performed in the film landed a Best Original Song nomination.

"Did you know that Ryan Gosling was as funny as he is, or did you just hire him because he's a hot dude, that's a perfect Ken?" Bateman asked Gerwig. "Because he's a funny M.F.R."

Gerwig said that she and her husband, Noah Baumbach, wrote the Barbie script with Gosling in mind as Ken, before he was even in talks for the part. 

"You know those actors — I mean, they're always my favorite actors — whether they're doing comedy or not, you can feel they have funny rhythms in them?" Gerwig said. 

Ryan Gosling attends the press junket and photo call for "Barbie" at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles

RELATED: Ryan Gosling Found an Actual Ken Doll in His Backyard Before Accepting the Barbie Movie

"And then I'm a big fan of all of his SNLs," Gerwig continued. Deeming his episodes "great," Gerwig name-checked the Guy Who Just Bought a Boat sketch as the clincher. "It was so good!" the director raved.

"I watch SNL every week, and I always thought he was great," Gerwig said. "So I had this idea..."

Watch "Weekend Update: Guy Who Just Bought a Boat on Dating" above, and don't miss Ryan Gosling hosting Saturday Night Live on April 13.