‘Being the Ricardos’ Producer Didn’t Want Nicole Kidman to be Imitation of Lucille Ball

by Josh Lanier
(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)

While Being the Ricardos is a biopic, producers realized early on that trying to recreate Lucille Ball was impossible. Nicole Kidman will play the red-headed rebel in the new Amazon movie, but she’s not going to do an impression.

Instead, producers asked the stars to capture the spirit of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They didn’t want the audience to be distracted by comparing the actors to the real McCoy — or Ricardos in this instance.

“(Director) Aaron (Sorkin) and I did not want to have imitations,” producer Todd Black told GoldDerby. “You’re never going to duplicate Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz. It’s never going to happen. They were one of a kind, that’s it.”

Black should know, he’s been thinking about making a movie on the couple since 1995. But, he told the website, Luci and Desi’s children weren’t ready then. Over the years, though, they built trust and Lucie Arnaz eventually gave him the green light but with one caveat. She wanted a warts-and-all portrayal of the comedy icon.

“‘I don’t want to soften it,'” Black recalled her saying. “I want to really get real and raw.’”

Arnaz gave Being the Ricardos writer/director Aaron Sorkin a similar pitch. He said he wouldn’t have done the movie if she hadn’t allowed him to be open and honest about her parents’ behind-the-scenes drama.

“We all had lunch together, and she said to me, ‘I know my mother wasn’t an easy woman,’” Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter. “‘Take the gloves off.’ In other words, you can go for it.”

The movie follows Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz through a week of production at I Love Lucy. They’re the most famous couple in the world at the moment, but life is far easier on-screen. And they are struggling to keep their marriage and show afloat and battling major powers in Hollywood and Washington.

Lucie Arnaz Calls ‘Being The Ricardos’ ‘Freaking Amazing’

Lucie Arnaz got a chance to visit the set for two days during the filming of Being the Ricardos. She wasn’t sold then. She didn’t like that Aaron Sorkin had shuffled the timeline around, and she protested.

“I couldn’t get my way and have them taken out, but they weren’t accurate,” she told Palm Springs Life. “And I thought, ‘That shouldn’t be in there, because that never happened.”

Sorkin admitted to making changes, though he felt they were necessary to keep the story tight and moving forward. Lucie Arnaz eventually agreed with him once she saw the movie.

“It’s freaking amazing,” she said in an Instagram video. “(Sorkin) made a great movie. What can I tell you? He captured the essence of that time in their lives so well. He captured the love between those players in the I Love Lucy show. The tension that was brought on in this particular week when all hell broke loose. And Nicole Kidman became my mother’s soul. She crawled into her head. I don’t know how you do that.”

Amazon will release Being the Ricardos into theaters on Dec. 10. The movie will stream on Prime beginning on Dec. 21.