Emma Eastwood had just removed her skintight pink Barbie jumpsuit at the Warner Brothers studio in London when she learned she had landed her most high-profile role yet: the body double of Barbie.
The news came via text message from one of the casting directors for Greta Gerwig’s new movie, just hours after she auditioned for the role. She had lowered her expectations after they twice rescinded offers for her to be an extra, she said. “I was completely convinced that she kept cursing myself,” Ms Eastwood added.
The 26-year-old actress, who grew up in San Francisco and now lives in London, had primarily worked in commercials, music videos and short films. Her role in “Barbie” marked her first time as a body double.
Any anxiety was eased her first day on set. She woke up before dawn and, at 6 a.m., she was in a minibus that transported her to the studio.
“My early days, I got a bit of the star treatment,” she recalled, noting that she was one of the few people on set at the time. “I felt really pampered,” she said, adding that she was surprised to find out that she had her own trailer.
In the casting world, body doubles are hired to fill in for actors who can’t or won’t film certain scenes. In other cases, stand-ins can help the production team save time and money. “They’re not going to let Margot Robbie sit on a set while they do lighting tests,” said Liz Lewis, a casting director who did not work on “Barbie.” “They are going to choose someone who is the same size, height, and color.”
Ms. Eastwood was initially hired as the hand double for Ms. Robbie, who plays the title character, but ended up taking on more robust scenes where her entire body, plus her face, was featured in the shot. “They didn’t give me any details of what we would be doing,” she said. “There were a couple of times they said the whole cast would be there and it would be a big day, but they never really gave me any details of what we were going to do until I was on set.”
Ms. Eastwood’s main goal was to befriend Ms. Robbie in hopes of working as her double in another film. The couple, however, did not often overlap. While Ms. Eastwood filmed her scenes on one set, Ms. Robbie often filmed hers on another.
Ms Eastwood felt confident in her job: she said that people on set often mistook her for Ms Robbie, including the actress herself. As she looked at the footage, Ms. Robbie told her that at some points she thought she was looking at herself.
And even if their schedules didn’t match, their measurements did. All the costumes that Mrs. Eastwood wore were also worn by Mrs. Robbie. “They didn’t do anything specifically for me,” she said.
Every morning before filming, Ms. Eastwood would spend about an hour doing her hair and makeup. The makeup artist covered her with a bronze base that looked more like Barbie’s tanned veneer. But even after applying multiple coats, the head of the makeup team would often approach the artist who was doing Ms. Eastwood’s body paint to let her know that her shade wasn’t dark enough.
To avoid staining the wardrobe, she wore her own clothes until it was time to film the scene. From then on, Mrs. Eastwood often had no idea what she would come next. Without any context for the plot of the movie, she was open to doing whatever she was asked to do.
One of the scenes that Ms. Eastwood filmed several times appeared in the trailer: a shot of her going up some stairs after being directed to act as if her feet hurt. When the trailer dropped, she was excited to see what was included.
In another scene, Mrs. Eastwood had to lie on the floor face down for an hour. Her makeup ran as she kept one side of her face on the ground. “When I got up, I literally felt drunk,” she said. “I have no idea what that scene was about.”
And that sentiment applies more broadly to the entire experience. “I was in this for two weeks and I barely know what the movie is about,” she said. “They did a very good job of keeping the plot hidden.” She won’t be able to see the movie until it is released to the public this summer.