Nicole Kidman Started Smoking To Take on the Role of Lucille Ball

by Anna Dunn

Sometimes, actors take on the habits of their characters in order to embody the role. This was no exception for Nicole Kidman, who took on smoking for the role of Lucille Ball. In an interview and photoshoot with Dojour, she discussed why she did so.

Kidman, who’s Australian, really struggled to find Lucille Ball’s unique voice and cadence. Ball had an American accent and had quite a specific voice, and in order to get her particular rasp, Kidman went to very extreme measures.

“At first, I said to Tom Jones, my dialogue coach, ‘This is impossible. I’m Australian. How am I going to get this?’ He said ‘We’re going to get there.’” They decided her Lucy needed to have a “deep smoker’s voice, so I started smoking. If I warm up for a minute, I now can do her voice standing on my head,” Kidman said.

Her voice really comes through in Being the Ricardos, and it’s one of the many ways her performance really surprised skeptics, who weren’t sure that the casting choice was the right call.

Nicole Kidman Feels Lucille Ball Paved the Way For Women in Hollywood

Nicole Kidman knows that Lucille ball paved the way for women in Hollywood. So this was a major role to fill that she took on with a massive amount of respect.

“I love that she was a woman that didn’t get eaten alive by the system. She actually helped create a new system,” Kidman said to The Hollywood Reporter. “And it’s inspiring not only to me, but I think to a new generation of women. And she also carved the way for the next generation of comedians. They love her! Women comedians, they love her. Because she was an extraordinary, gifted clown.”

Part of the reason Kidman came under fire for playing Lucille Ball is almost anyone would. These are very difficult shoes to fill. The criticism did get to her, and there was even a time where she continued stepping away from the role. But ultimately, she was too dedicated to back down.

“I tried not to [listen to the criticism], but I’m a human being, so there’s time when you go, ‘Gosh, maybe I’m not the right person for this,” she told Today.

Kidman also had Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, on her side. Even before the film really started shooting, Arnaz defended Nicole Kidman from critics who wanted a comedian in the role. But clearly, Kidman was incredibly dedicated.

If you want to check out Being the Ricardos for yourself, the film is available on Amazon Prime.