‘Being the Ricardos’: Nina Arianda Discusses What She Knew About Vivian Vance Before the Role

by Anna Dunn

Being the Ricardos star Nina Arianda recently discussed what she knew about Vivian Vance before accepting the role. Arianda played the actress and I Love Lucy star in the new film.

You have to know a ton about a person to play them. But Aaron Sorkin, the director of the film, told the cast immediately that he didn’t want impersonations. But one thing they all did together to learn more about how to portray their characters was a re-creation of a 3-4 minute I Lucy Scene.

She discussed the process in a recent Variety interview.

“The biggest thing for me, off the bat, was that Aaron Sorkin told us strictly: “no impersonations.” That’s a gift, to be told that you have no obligation to perform in that sense. That being said, we had 3-4 minutes of “I Love Lucy” show footage that we had to study and recreate, so honoring Vivian’s physicality was super important,” she said.

For Arianda, a big part of learning about Vivian Vance was learning about how she moved around in a scene.

Arianda Wanted to Know as Much as Possible about her ‘Being the Ricardos’ Role

But it was also about who she was, what she wanted in life, and what she struggled with. Vance was a complicated person who sometimes struggled to get out of the “box” the role of Ethel Mertz put her in. She and Lucille Ball were long-time friends but didn’t start on the right foot.

And even when they became close while filming the show, they had arguments about the creative process. One of those arguments made it into the show, and it was one of Nina Arianda’s finest moments. In order to get into the role, she really studied Vance and even looked over a lot of rare clips of the actress.

“I wanted to find everything I could on her. There was so little it was maddening to me. Finally, somebody sent me this clip. It was only seconds long, and it was Desi Arnaz introducing the cast before one of the original show tapings,” she said.

And who Vivian Vance was was so far away from her actual character on I Love Lucy.

“What I saw was a woman that is head-to-toe a dancer, a seductress. To me, she was so aware of her hips. Her energy was oozing femininity. I love that that woman then went backstage and played Ethel,” she said.

It’s clear that she took a lot of time to learn more about Vance because her performance is one of the best in the whole film. If you want to see it for yourself, Being the Ricardos is available on Amazon Prime.