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Reese Witherspoon Developing Plastic, Fantastic Biopic of Barbie Creator

Mattel/Warner Bros.
Mattel/Warner Bros.

Reese Witherspoon, with her can-do attitude, multi-hyphenate success, and pleasingly symmetrical face, has always sort of resembled a Barbie doll. The parallels between the Academy Award-winning actress and America’s most time-tested plaything don’t stop there, either; though dismissed by some as a frivolous or disposable source of entertainment fit only for ladies, both have demonstrated a crucial social import and provided inspiration to young women from coast to coast. They’ve both done things we’d prefer not to remember — Barbie reinforced all those restrictive gender stereotypes for decades, Witherspoon starred opposite Sofia Vergara in Hot Pursuit — but we love them regardless. And in a new report from Tracking Board, it appears that soon, this figurative Barbie girl will make a new life for herself in an all-too-literal Barbie world.

As part of their standing commitment to provide actresses with complex, challenging leading roles in a male-dominated film marketplace, Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard production company has begun development on a biopic of Ruth Handler, best known as the creator behind the Barbie doll. Married to the owner of Mattel, she was struck by an idea for a better toy while watching her child futz around with paper dolls, universally understood to be the lamest children’s pastime. Working from the basic template of an adult novelty toy she had found abroad, autodidact Handler designed what would ultimately become Barbie and her husband’s Mattel plants commenced production on the dolls by the thousands. The rest is plastic, tiny-waisted history.

Apart from the shattering realization that Barbie began as a tool used to aid sexual stimulation, which is like finding out your kindergarten teacher also worked in porn to pay the bills, this should be a fine project for Witherspoon. She’s attached as producer currently and fully expected to take on the lead role, with the themes of feminist empowerment and resourcefulness having previously attracted Witherspoon to the likes of WildI mean, Legally Blonde was pretty much Law School Barbie, so nobody would argue that she’s not adequately familiar with the subject material.

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