In a 1978 Q&A session, Ball explained how she totally botched her first film role. The appearance came in 1935’s Top Hat, where she portrayed a flower girl. Thankfully, the star would recover and go on to create and star in I Love Lucy which remains one of the most successful and influential sitcoms of all time.
“I flunked so badly that the director, God bless him he’s gone now, Mark Sandrich, felt so sorry for me that he just let me go,” she said. But why, exactly, did the star struggle so much on set?
“I could not do cockney,” she said of the accent, “and I still can’t. It’s just a mental block.”
A Week Behind the Set of ‘I Love Lucy’ To be Portrayed in an Upcoming Aaron Sorkin Film
While many know of and have seen I Love Lucy, very few people saw what went down behind the scenes. A new film, titled Being the Ricardos, will tackle a week behind the scenes of the show. It won’t portray Lucy and Ricky, but will instead take an intimate look at the marriage between Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz.
The film will star Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. J.K Simmons will play William Frawley. Frawley played Fred on I Love Lucy. He was also a close friend of both Ball and Arnaz. Nina Arianda will play Vivian Vance. Vance co-starred alongside Frawley as Ethel.
Not only is the lineup star-studded, but Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, is helping production. She will work to ensure that the version of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that appears on screen will be as accurate as possible to her real-life parents. She’s already defended the casting of Nicole Kidman after backlash from fans saying she wasn’t funny enough.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Had a Complex Relationship
Her parents met on the set of Too Many Girls in 1940. They married two months later. Their divorce in 1960 shocked America. While their on-screen relationship was often fun and light, it couldn’t be further from the truth behind the scenes. Their relationship was reportedly incredibly tumultuous.
No matter what people think of the casting choice, many are anticipating the film. With Lucie Arnaz helping out, there’s a good chance that it could truly be an authentic portrayal of the complex lives of the I Love Lucy producers and stars.
While Lucille Ball may have failed her first film, It didn’t stop her from trying, again and again, to get things right. Then, I Love Lucy was born and television itself was changed because of it.