John Cena's Agency Encouraged Him to Turn Down 'Barbie' Role for Being 'Beneath' Him

The actor and WWE wrestler accepted Margot Robbie's invitation to star as a mermaid in the blockbuster film.

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John Cena's role as the hunky Mermaid Ken in Barbie almost didn't come to be.

In the film, Cena and Dua Lipa make guest appearances as Mermaid Barbies. But during an interview on The Howard Stern Show earlier this week, Cena explained how his agency was hesitant about him taking the role.

"[The agency is] just going on what they know. And what they know is, ‘This entity, this commodity gravitates toward these things, we should stay in this lane,'" Cena revealed to Stern. "But I’m not a commodity. I’m a human being, and I operate under the construct of every opportunity is an opportunity."

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His agency's hesitation wasn't the only obstacle to Cena's involvemnent. The actor was finishing up his Fast X obligations when production of Barbie got underway. However with the help of film producer and lead Margot Robbie, Cena was offered a customized opportunity for a minor Barbie role so he could complete Fast X. Still, his team still wasn't impressed.

"Margot was like, ‘We’ll make you a mermaid. You’ll be in it for half a day.’ Yeah, sure," Cena continued. "But I think the perspective from an agency standpoint was, ‘This is beneath you,’ which I get that. But also to the agency’s credit, immediately they acquiesced, and I was like, ‘No we’re going to do it,’ but all they can do is offer their guidance. They’re not ultimately making the choice."

Cena shared that his agency feared taking the role would affect his ability to pick up future lead roles.

"Their guidance is, ‘Hey, truly, trickle-down economics from this might take you out of these lead leap slots.’ And I get all that," he added. "I’ve always operated under the philosophy of good work gets you another chance."

The actor's leap of faith paid off, as Barbie became a cultural sensation and the highest-grossing film of 2023, receiving high praise and eight 2024 Oscar nominations.

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