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John Cena says his agency advised him against small “Barbie” role

"I’ve always operated under the philosophy of good work gets you another chance.”

John Cena's agency had reservations about him stepping into the Kendom.

The actor portrayed merman Ken in a very brief but memorable scene, opposite Dua Lipa's mermaid Barbie, in the 2023 summer blockbuster Barbie — but had he listened to his agency, he wouldn't have had a brewski handed to him by the "Dance the Night" pop star.

"[The agency is] just going on what they know, and what they know is, 'This entity, this commodity gravitates towards these things, we should stay in this lane,'" Cena shared during a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show. "But I’m not a commodity. I’m a human being, and I operate under the construct of every opportunity is an opportunity."

<p>Warner Bros. Pictures</p> John Cena in 'Barbie'

Warner Bros. Pictures

John Cena in 'Barbie'

"I read the script of the movie and I tried my hardest to be in it," Cena, who was simultaneously filming Fast X right next door, continued. "Margot [Robbie] was like, 'We’ll make you a mermaid. You’ll be in it for half a day.’'Yeah, sure. 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."

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

Greta Gerwig's existential-tinged Barbie became the biggest film of last year, crossing $1 billion at the global box office and making Gerwig the first solo female director to achieve the feat. "I think I told them that it'd make a billion dollars, which maybe I was overselling, but we had a movie to make, okay?!" star and producer Robbie previously said of the pitch meeting that manifested the success.

The blockbuster also picked up eight nominations at this year's Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, and Best Supporting Actress for America Ferrera. Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell's ballad "What Was I Made For?" and Gosling's anthem "I'm Just Ken" also picked up nods for Best Original Song.

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