‘Being the Ricardos’ Director Aaron Sorkin Explains What He Wants Film to Say About Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz

by Joe Rutland

Aaron Sorkin took on making Being the Ricardos. His film is now complete, so what does he want it to say about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz?

Sorkin, who directed the movie starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Ball and Arnaz, talked about it in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“Beyond the accusation of communism, there were other things that really interested me, like the fact that Lucille Ball was nothing like Lucy Ricardo, and she looked nothing like Lucy Ricardo,” Sorkin said. “She’s kind of like Charlie Chaplin in that way.

“When most people think of Charlie Chaplin, they think of The Little Tramp, but Chaplin doesn’t look anything like Little Tramp,” he said. “And when most people think of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, they’re thinking of Lucy and Ricky. But Lucille Ball was more of a Rita Hayworth, Jessica Rabbit-looking actress. And the road that she took to I Love Lucy was an interesting one. The road that Desi took to I Love Lucy was an interesting one.”

Director Sorkin Interested In Contrast Between Lucille Ball, TV Character, Husband

Aaron Sorkin‘s other work includes The West Wing, The Newsroom, The Social Network, and Sports Night.

The Being the Ricardos director said he was interested in the contrast between Lucy and Ricky and Lucy and Desi.

“And then throw in a kind of strained relationship that Lucille Ball had with Vivian Vance, and throw in the kind of Damon Runyon character that William Frawley was, and suddenly there were these stories to tell,” Sorkin said.

Sorkin said that Desi came from a culture that had a very narrow definition of manhood.

“And as hard as he tried, and as much as he loved Lucy and really admired and respected her talent, it was difficult for him to be [a] second banana,” Sorkin said.

Ball Once Said That Desi Arnaz Could’ve Been ‘Cuban Movie Star’

“And Desi himself was an extraordinarily talented man,” Sorkin said. “As Lucy said, ‘He would’ve been a movie star if there was such a thing as a Cuban movie star.’ So, what I look for is interesting points of friction, and suddenly they were springing up all over the place.”

Being the Ricardos also stars Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance and J.K. Simmons as Wiliam Frawley. It’s also worth noting that Ball and Arnaz’s children, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz, are listed as executive producers.

Ball and Arnaz starred in I Love Lucy for six seasons along with Vance and Frawley. All four appeared in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour from 1957-60. Ball filed for divorce in March 1960 and it was finalized in May 1960.