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Margot Robbie set to play Barbie in the doll's first live-action film

The Australian actress hopes her take on the role will be 'empowering'

'I, Tonya' star, Margot Robbie, said that playing with the doll as a child promoted 'confidence, curiosity and communication'. AP
'I, Tonya' star, Margot Robbie, said that playing with the doll as a child promoted 'confidence, curiosity and communication'. AP

Australian actress Margot Robbie will play the role of Mattel's iconic Barbie doll in the toy's first live-action film, Mattel and Warner Bros announced on Tuesday.

Barbie, who will celebrate her 60th birthday this year, has already been the subject of dozens of animated movies, though none were ever distributed in theatres.

"Over the brand's almost 60 years, Barbie has empowered kids to imagine themselves in aspirational roles, from a princess to president," Robbie said.

"I'm so honoured to take on this role and produce a film that I believe will have a tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide."

Launched in March 1959, the character of Barbara Millicent Roberts is from the fictional town of Willow, Wisconsin.

Her boyfriend, Ken, was introduced by Mattel in 1961 and her sister, Skipper, in 1964. The company has released hundreds of fashion and lifestyle accessories for the brand.

Despite Mattel's release of different versions of Barbie with varying of eye colours, hairstyles and skin tones and, more recently, more diverse body types, the actress portraying Barbie for her big-screen debut will resemble the doll's original blonde, blue-eyed iteration.

Robbie, 28, has starred in films including Suicide Squad in 2016 and I, Tonya in 2017, for which she was nominated for a best actress Oscar.

The feature film will be the first from the toy manufacturer's new studio Mattel Films, and co-produced with Robbie's production company LuckyChap Entertainment.

The new project shows the ambitions of Mattel's new CEO, Ynon Kreiz, who took the top spot at the company in April 2018.

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Kreiz is working to revive a company that has suffered from the twin blows of video games and screens in general, which have taken children's attention away from traditional toys.

But 2018 was a good year for Barbie, as sales increased 15 per cent over the first nine months of the year to $698 million (Dhs2.5 billion).

In total, more than a billion Barbie dolls have been sold in the 60 years since she first went for sale in New York.

Updated: January 9, 2019 10:42 AM

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