Nicole Kidman Recalls How Frightening It Was to Play Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos: I Had Massive Trepidation
Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” took over Westwood Village on Saturday night as both press and SAG-AFTRA members lined the streets around the Bruin Theater, keen to get their eyes on Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz.
Kidman received a standing ovation as she joined Bardem, Sorkin, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale and J.K. Simmons for the post-screening Q&A..
“I had massive trepidation about a month prior, and Aaron had to get on the phone and send me emails saying, ‘You’ve got this,’” Kidman revealed when asked if she knew she had it in her to play the comedian. Sorkin championed her and the whole cast throughout the nine-week shoot. “It was frightening but incredibly exciting,” she added.
“Being the Ricardos” centers on a single production week of “I Love Lucy,” the hit sitcom that ran for six seasons before ending in 1957 and remains loved by audiences to this day. Sorkin peppers in flashbacks of the series throughout the film, as well as glimpses of Ball and Arnaz’s relationship in between.
Kidman told the audience that while she loved Ball and the show, she didn’t know “the woman behind the lipstick.”
“I fell in love with her as I was reading the script,” she said. “I realized what she was doing [was] trailblazing for women.”
When casting his film, Sorkin stressed that he wasn’t looking for impersonations of these icons. “It’s a painting, not a photograph,” he said.
Both Kidman and Bardem garnered awards buzz on social media following the screening. Despite “I Love Lucy’s” popularity in Bardem’s native Spain, he too said he didn’t know much about the man beyond his performance. He said, “I was obsessed with him and his skills as a comedian, as a person, as a producer and a musician at that time while being a foreigner in this country.”
Bardem wasn’t just playing the comedian, he was playing a charming performer. Someone who he says was “sexual and sensual. The energy had to be there, and I had fun embodying that.”
Count on Sorkin to recreate one of the show’s most iconic moments: Ball stomping on grapes during “I Love Lucy’s” iconic winemaking scene. Kidman revealed that she prepared for the scene by carefully analyzing the show and Ball’s expressions. “I studied them and learned them. It went into my body and my memory,” the actress said.
The sequence was shot in two days. “It was my obsession to get it absolutely accurate. It was his obsession to have this human being portrayed – what’s behind the creation of Lucy Ricardo and who is the woman behind this character?”
At the center of the film is a love story between the Ball and Arnaz. Sorkin cited the 1995 film “The American President,” starring Michael Douglas and Annette Benning, as the last romance he wrote, though he added that the “Ricardos” took on a different kind of love story. “You get the sense all through the movie that this is going to be painful.”
“Being the Ricardos” will be released on Dec. 10.
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