Daniel Kaluuya’s ‘Daring’ Live-Action ‘Barney’ Film Is About ‘Millennial Angst’

Daniel Kaluuya is taking Barney to the next level.

The Oscar winner is set to star in and produce an upcoming live-action film adaptation of the children’s TV show. However, there’s a tonal twist to the project, as teased by Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon.

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“We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids. It’s really a play for adults,” McKeon told The New Yorker. “Not that it’s R-rated, but it’ll focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being thirtysomething, growing up with Barney — just the level of disenchantment within the generation.”

McKeon described the film as an “A24-type” “surrealistic” story akin to Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s respective works. “It would be so daring of us,” McKeon said, “and really underscore that we’re here to make art.”

Lead star Kaluuya previously told Entertainment Weekly in 2020 that he wanted to focus on the “heartbreaking” aspects of Barney.

“Barney taught us, ‘I love you, you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true?” Kaluuya said. “I thought that was really heartbreaking. I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.”

Mattel Films is launching tentpole feature “Barbie” this summer, which features references to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Matrix,” and more classic films. As the trailer captures, Barbie (Margot Robbie) has an existential crisis which forces her to enter the real world and leave Barbieland in a reverse Genesis storyline. Mattel also has projects with Lena Dunham, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Warden, and Ridley Scott in the works.

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