EXCLUSIVE! Ariana Greenblatt told us everything (she could) about the Barbie movie
Editor's Note: This interview was conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Ariana Greenblatt is probably going to be the biggest movie star of her generation. At just 15, she's already had a hit series on Disney Channel, taken on intense roles in tons of major films (ever heard of Avengers: Infinity War?) and worked alongside (and even befriended) major talents like Margot Robbie and Adam Driver.
Her star power becomes even more obvious once you learn that some of the biggest names in show business look to her as a muse, with both Greta Gerwig (who directs her in Barbie, which pretty much everyone is already calling the movie of the summer) and the iconic Meryl Streep inspired by her raw talent.
Not bad for a girl who's just trying to get through sophomore year of high school.
A totally typical teenager with a fabulous double life, Ariana is a study in contrast. She's a sophisticated art lover with a keen eye for couture (at our photo shoot, she picked out everything she is wearing from racks of new and vintage designer finds). But when she's not on set, she spends her weekends hitting the mall in her pajamas or racing dirt bikes with her dad.
She loves going to school and tossing around ideas with her classmate (especially in her fave electives, sociology and psychology) but freely admits she chose those classes partly because she knew they would make her a better actor. "I have always loved learning why people are the way they are," says Ariana. "For future characters, I can use my knowledge of, like, OK, she's acting this way because of point A and B."
And dedicated as she is to her acting career, Ariana's already thinking about her future as a writer or director—and she's looking close to home for inspiration. "I could be talking to my friend at school and, at the same time, I'm thinking, I'm going to write you into a movie," Ariana confesses. "They don't know that I do this, but I've literally written character descriptions of my friends." (You've been warned, besties.)
Truth be told, they probably wouldn't be surprised, especially given her dedication to capturing her personal life on camera. "I have a really old camcorder that I bring everywhere with me, and I make my friends take a lot of pictures of themselves when we're walking around," she says.
It's all valuable research for Ariana, who aspires to tell "a very simple coming-of-age story." She explains: "I feel like teenage girls are the most complex and layered species—we have so much going on in our heads. There are so many different types of girls, and I feel like so far only a few have been portrayed."
One of Ariana's go-to flicks for inspo? Gerwig's 2017 critically acclaimed coming-of-age film Lady Bird. "Lady Bird is my comfort movie," she shares. "I haven't seen a lot of films like that, that have felt so real and authentic." The fact that it stars her number one celeb crush doesn't hurt: "Timothée Chalamet is my soulmate," Ariana reveals. (Sadly, she has yet to meet him.)
Given her Lady Bird fandom, Ariana was understandably thrilled to pair up with Gerwig on Barbie, which follows Barbie (played by Robbie) as a less-than-perfect doll who enters the human world to find happiness.
"Greta is someone I've dreamt of working with for many years, and she's exactly who you want her to be," Ariana raves. "Every day she came with a smile and excitement and some jokes and some stories. I would ask her, 'How are you not freaking out being so overwhelmed?' And she was like, 'I love it. I just love it so much.' She's just a boss."
As glamorous as her life may be now, Ariana's career had a simple start. Growing up in Pomona, N.Y., she spent her time taking dance classes, dreaming of being on Broadway and hanging with her parents, her older brother Gavin and her rescue pug Ozzy. (The Greenblatt fam now has two mutts, also rescues, named Foxy and Luna.)
Then her whole life changed on a family vacation to Los Angeles over spring break in 2015. Her manager at the time scored her two last-minute meetings with Nickelodeon and Disney Channel...and Ariana ended up with three jobs.
One of those gigs was a series regular role as Daphne on Stuck in the Middle, the Disney Channel show that put her on the map. Since then, Ariana's star has only continued to rise—and she's poised to have an especially big year ahead.
This month brings the release of 65, a sci-fi thriller she shot more than two years ago alongside Driver. "That was one of the first characters that I truly had a separate brain for," Ariana recalls of her time on set. "When it was time to play this girl, I was fully her—body language and everything."
But it's when Gerwig's Barbie comes out in July that her life will likely go into whirlwind mode, " I have to be very careful what I say," she hedges when pressed for details on the highly anticipated film. "I'm definitely the Tom Holland of the Barbie world. Like, I would be the one to spoil it. All I'm going to say is what you've seen so far is the least of everything—there's so much more to come."
Ariana is eager (and able) to sill about set life for Barbie, though. "Everyone was like a kid," she says of her castmates, singling out Robbie: "Margot was honestly my big sister. We bonded over listening to Lana Del Rey and Frank Ocean."
It stands to reason that someone as effortlessly cool as Ariana—a girl who is obsessed with the 1990s film Girl, Interrupted, insists on doing as many of her own stunts as she can get away with and makes a point of going thrifting in every foreign city she visits—could so easily become BFFs with global movie stars.
In an ultimate sign of friendship compatibility, Robbie and Ariana discovered they even had some of the same dislikes: "Matcha was extremely popular on the Barbie set. Margot and I always tried to convince ourselves we liked it because it's a really pretty green color and it's super aesthetic, but we both hated it," Ariana reveals.
Movie star besties, film sets, press tours and photo shoots aside, Ariana tries to keep it real as much as possible. When Ariana's crew from home hangs out, they keep it low-key—watching movies, making TikToks and never posting them, grabbing boba. (Ariana's fave flavors = Thai tea and taro.) "Boba is my favorite thing in the world," shares Ariana, adding that she's been attempting to make her own at home. "It's a problem. I'm obsessed."
Whether she's mastering boba or the big screen, it's all just another scene in the movie of Ariana's fascinating, complex, ever-evolving life. "There are so many ideas going through my brain at all times. I just love telling stories. I love a challenge."
We know we'll be watching.
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our April/May 2023 issue.
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Credits: Photographed by Raul Romo. Styled by Lo VonRumpf. Hair by Kiley Fitzgerald using Davines and makeup by Allan Avendano using L'Oreal Paris, both for A-Frame Agency. Story edited for digital coverage by Kathleen O'Neill.