‘Being the Ricardos’ Star Nicole Kidman Had Second Thoughts After Backlash Over Casting as Lucille Ball

by Allison Hambrick

During an appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan, actress Nicole Kidman talked nearly dropping out of Being the Ricardos after fan backlash against her casting as Lucille Ball. At first, the actress had few doubts about taking on the role because of the strong script.

“Initially, Aaron Sorkin wrote this screenplay that you read and you cannot put down,” Kidman, 54, said. “I say to people: If you can get your hands on this screenplay, read it because it’s such a good read. It’s as good as a great novel.”

Unfortunately, the initial response to Kidman’s casting in Being the Ricardos was negative. Many fans doubted her in the role. Some wanted a comedian as Lucille Ball. Others complained that Kidman simply didn’t look the part.

“I went, ‘What have I said yes to?’ — to which I then went, ‘Oh no, I’m not right. Everyone thinks I’m not right so I’m going to try to sidestep this,'” the actress explained. “And the producer Todd Black and Aaron Sorkin were both like, ‘Absolutely not.’ I was in Australia and they were like, ‘No.’ And thank god, because then I was so grateful because I got to fall in love with her.”

Lucille Ball’s Daughter Approves of “Being the Ricardos”

While she received a lot of undue criticism, Kidman got a vote of confidence from a critical source: Lucie Arnaz. Kidman appreciated the support, calling it a “huge relief.” While Kidman wanted “to honor” Lucy and Desi, she also wanted to “show them with their flaws.”

The daughter of Lucille Ball initially opposed making a film about her parents, but she agreed to Being the Ricardos after building trust with producer Todd Black. Her only condition was that they approach the film as “raw” and unsanitized, not as a rehash of her parents’ work.

“There seems to be a lot of discussion about ‘Nicole Kidman, it should be Debra Messing, it should be Carole Cook,’” explained Arnaz. “Here’s the deal, what you should understand: We are not doing a remake of I Love Lucy. No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vitameatavegamin routine or … any of the silly things.”

Additionally, Arnaz promises that fans will not be disappointed in Being the Ricardos. That is, as long as they don’t expect an imitation of I love Lucy. She wants people to know “the story of Lucille Ball, [her] actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo and her husband Desi Arnaz, [her] dad, not Ricky Ricardo.”

As for Kidman’s performance, Arnaz only has kind words. Since screening the film, she said that Kidman “became [her] mother’s soul,” expressing her disbelief at how successfully she acted the part.

Being the Ricardos releases in theaters on Dec. 10, while it will be available to stream on Amazon Prime beginning on Dec. 21.