Remember back in 2015 when Diablo Cody was tapped to write Sony’s live-action Barbie movie? It was exciting, to say the least. The screenwriter behind Juno and Young Adult, and creator of the series United States of Tara and One Mississippi, has made a phenomenal career out of telling rich, complex stories about women. Who better to bring the Mattel doll to life than a writer well versed in wit and sincerity?

The long-in-development project, which was recently pushed back to 2020, has hit several snags over the past several years. At one point, Amy Schumer was attached to star and co-write the script before exiting. The studio initially brought on Sex and the City scribe Jenny Bicks to pen the film in 2014 before replacing her with Cody. In fall of 2015, producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald told The Hollywood Reporter they were expecting a script from the Juno writer in just a couple weeks time. But a few months later reports claimed Sony was “underwhelmed“ with the version Cody turned in, hiring three new writers – Hilary Winston, Bert Royal, and Lindsey Beer – to pen three separate drafts. But as it turns out, there was never a Cody script to be underwhelmed by; it didn’t exist.

While chatting with Cody about her upcoming film Tully, a reunion with Charlize Theron and Young Adult and Juno director Jason Reitman, I asked what happened with her Barbie screenplay. With the project passing through so many hands over the years, I started to ask her if she knew whether Sony kept any of her initial ideas for the upcoming film, rumored to star Anne Hathaway. Before I could finish my sentence, Cody cleared up the confusion:

Dude, I never even produced an initial draft. I failed so hard at that project. I was literally incapable of writing a Barbie script. God knows I tried.

So what happened? Cody told me she was trying to write a script about the iconic doll at the same time she was developing Tully, a personal project that was born out her own anxieties that transpired from motherhood. As much as she tried to make both work, it just didn’t happen. But still, she’s hopefully someone will make an awesome Barbie movie eventually:

To be honest, the timeline coincided with my writing Tully. I was really overwhelmed at the time, and I think I was really only capable of reaching in and pulling out something super personal. Look, I think the idea of a Barbie movie is super f—ing cool and I hope something goes in there and kills it. And I mean kills it in a positive way. I hope it’s a great movie is what I’m saying! [Laughs] Which is why I initially signed on to do it, which I think is a cool idea, especially now.

But for whatever reason, I’ve always had trouble, I’ve never been great at adaptations. I think when it comes down to it, I’m pretty much an original screenplay person.

Considering the subject matter of Tully, a movie about the utter chaos of raising children and a mother struggling with postpartum depression, it makes sense Cody poured her energy into a more personal project. It’s a bummer we’ll never get to see what her take on a Barbie film would be – if we ever even see Sony’s movie – but if that’s the price to be paid to get a film as original and enchanting as Tully, we’ve got no complaints.

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