The ‘Argylle’ star is weighing in on the “hell of an achievement” that is the Oscar-nominated ‘Barbie': "Awards aren’t the only metric to success"
The star, who plays Merman Ken in the hit film, was asked on the red carpet at the U.K. premiere of his new movie Argylle for his thoughts on director Greta Gerwig and lead actress Margot Robbie missing out on nominations in those categories among the 96th Academy Awards list.
“I try to operate under the construct that, ‘What can I control?’” Cena, 46, told PEOPLE exclusively on Wednesday. “And I can’t switch anything that’s happened.”
But, he continued, “I can let my friend Margot and I can certainly let Greta know that awards aren’t the only metric to success and they have made a movie that has done tremendous business and changed a lot of lives in the process. And I think that’s one hell of an achievement.”
Barbie, the critical and box-office smash that became the highest-grossing film of 2023 following its July release, earned eight Academy Award nominations this year, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling and Best Supporting Actress for America Ferrera.
In what many are calling “two high-profile omissions,” star and co-producer Robbie, 33, was not recognized in the Best Actress category, while Gerwig, 40, wasn’t among the Best Director nominees.
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The Golden Globe- and Critics Choice Award-nominated Robbie, however, is Oscar-nominated this year in the Best Picture category as one of Barbie’s producers. It’s her third overall nomination following acting nods in I, Tonya in 2018 and Bombshell in 2020.
Gerwig, along with husband Noah Baumbach, is recognized in the Academy’s Adapted Screenplay category this year. The filmmaker was also Oscar-nominated in the same category in 2020 for Little Women, and earned her first two nods in 2018 for writing and helming Lady Bird — making her one of only eight women to have ever been recognized in the Best Director category.
Gosling, 43, who plays Ken in Barbie, reacted to his nomination with a statement released Tuesday in support of his costar and director. “To say that I'm disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories would be an understatement," he said.
"There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film.”
Cena, who starred with Robbie in 2021’s Suicide Squad, appears briefly in Barbie as a long-haired merman off the coast of Barbie Land’s version of Malibu.
"I was blown away with the concept," the wrestler-actor said in a Barbie promotional clip released in July. At the time he called Gerwig’s film something "that all audiences enjoy. I think it's gonna be a movie that evokes conversation… the ideas behind it, I think the audience will walk away with, like, a mixed bag of opinions, which I think is the greatest form of entertainment.”
Cena joins fellow Barbie mermaid Dua Lipa again onscreen in Argylle, in theaters Feb. 2. The Matthew Vaughn-directed action comedy stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson and more.
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