‘Being the Ricardos’ Star Nicole Kidman Memorializes Lucille Ball as a ‘Trailblazer’

by Josh Lanier

Nicole Kidman said she looks up to Lucille Ball for all she was able to accomplish even with the odds stacked against her.

Kidman is playing Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos. The actress discussed the role and the comedy pioneer with Chris Rock for Variety’s Actors on Actors interview series.

“She was a trailblazer,” Kidman said of Lucille Ball. “She formed her production company. Desi was Cuban, and she had to fight to get him on the show. They had just so many things in their marriage that are so relevant today, and what she was also dealing with in terms of everything that artists deal with, where you’re up against big corporations. And you’re like, ‘No, this is art.'”

There was an outcry from several fans who didn’t want Kidman to portray Lucille Ball. Deborah Messing lobbied hard for the role, and many fans sided with her. The rest of the cast includes Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz with J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda, playing William Frawley and Vivian Vance.

Some on-set photos leaked early on during production showing what Kidman and Bardem will look like in their roles.

Kidman didn’t address that controversy in her talk with Rock, but she did want to clear up a misconception about the film. The movie isn’t remaking I Love Lucy.

“Lucille Ball is hopefully funny,” she said. “The strange thing about Lucille Ball is that everyone thinks we’re remaking the I Love Lucy show, and it’s so not that. It’s about Lucy and Desi and their relationship and their marriage. It’s very deep, actually.”

Sorkin, who also wrote the movie, has said that isn’t the case.

“The film takes place during a production week of I Love Lucy…,” Sorkin told Entertainment Tonight. “A Monday table read to Friday audience taping, with a whole bunch of long flashbacks which are telling the story that got us here… And because there’s a table read, there’s rehearsals and then there’s tape night… We do see moments of them being Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.”

Kidman Talks About Lucille Ball’s Accent

Chris Rock asked Nicole Kidman how much homework she did concerning Lucille Ball’s iconic voice. Kidman said she enjoys the “technical aspects” of acting, but she isn’t rigid about it. She likes to have the ability to fluctuate her performance according to the scene.

“I don’t think about it too much,” she said of mastering an accent. “I’ve always come at it through feeling. The technical aspects of performance for me are really interesting. They’re almost like homework. And then in you come, and that can fluctuate depending on what’s going through my body, my heart, my mind at the time. The great thing about an accent is you can always go and fix it in looping.”

Looping is when performers come back after filming has finished and re-record some of their lines to fix any technical or dramatic mistakes.

Bardem will have a much harder time as Arnaz’s Cuban accent is immediately recognizable to any fan of the show.