Bullied in Crawley - and now living the dream in fabulous new Barbie movie

It’s a long, long way from Crawley to Barbieland, but Todd Talbot has made it there and is now living the dream in the fabulous new Barbie movie.
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Crawley-born Todd plays one of the Mattel executives alongside Will Ferrell in the film which was made last year in London and LA: “I got an audition through my agent for a film coming out called Barbie and I was wondering what on earth it could be, what on earth it would turn into. I think everyone just assumed it was for girls and that it was the toy but I just thought it sounded an interesting project. That was the beginning of last year.

“I had the audition. The Mattel corps were the older guys. They were still workshopping how the movement was going to be incorporated into the film. And then I had a recall and I went back and that time it was a bit more dancy which was great for me and then I had a final call. And then a couple of weeks later I got the call saying that I had been picked to be one of the executives. That's the call that you always hope to get! You get so many rejections. I went through five years of just being told no all the time in my mid 30s and I was thinking that it was time to give up but now in two years I have done three films!

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“And (director) Greta (Gerwig) was amazing. She was inspirational. She was so playful and kind and just so down to earth and very humble. She was just so open to people playing and finding the character in a sense. I just didn't feel like there was any pressure. She never raised her voice. It was just a joy to be in. I think we started in May last year. We had two months at Warner Brothers and then I did a week in LA on location which was the rollerblading scene on Santa Monica beach... That's how you get to Barbieland! And Will Ferrell (leading the executives) was just exactly how he is in the movies. He was hilarious, always up for a laugh. I was just so shocked by how down to earth he was. You just don't expect these people to be like that, you expect them to be untouchable but he was just absolutely a joy to work with and always messing around.”

Todd Talbot in Barbieland (contributed pic)Todd Talbot in Barbieland (contributed pic)
Todd Talbot in Barbieland (contributed pic)

And now of course Todd can see himself in the movie (read our review here): “It's a very surreal feeling but it was such an incredible experience that it's so fantastic to be able to relive it by seeing the film. It is a very inventive film. It's just a bit of fun and I think that's exactly what we need at the moment, a bit of escapism and a bit of joy in our lives but there is a message in there that I think is very important, that life is about feeling things rather than just the fake identities that we all have on social media, those fake plastic pictures. The flip side to that is real life which is so much more fulfilling. Perfection is boring. You don't feel anything if you're perfect. Real life is more up and down obviously but at least you're alive and I think that's such an important message to give people.”

Todd was born in Crawley and lived there until he was 16 when he went up to musical theatre college in London. He remembers particularly his inspirational drama teachers at Thomas Bennett: Pete Benson and Helen Shea. But he also remembers the bullying he endured as a young boy wanting to dance – and that's why he offers his Barbie success as an inspirational tale of how you must stick to your dreams, a message especially for the queer community living in Sussex to give them a sense of hope that with hard work and determination dreams can come true.

“I was bullied a lot in Crawley for wanting to perform and to dance. It was just crazy. I was wanting to dance and people just thought it was a reason to bully me. I was not aware of my sexuality at that age. I was unsure of a lot of things but I knew that I wanted to dance and that's why I kept at it. The bullying could have been a reason to stop but I had a dream, and when I danced it was my release. It was my happy place. If I had given up I would have given into the bullying and that would have been extremely sad. And I wouldn't have been in the Barbie movie!”

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