‘Being the Ricardos’: Aaron Sorkin Fires Back at Critics of Nicole Kidman’s Casting as Lucille Ball

by Jennifer Shea

“Being the Ricardos” director Aaron Sorkin is firing back at critics of Nicole Kidman’s casting as Lucille Ball in his upcoming biopic. He says he wasn’t looking for an actress who would be funny, but one who would be “sexy.”

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sorkin also said he doesn’t mind that people have low expectations for the film. He’s been there and done that with “The Social Network.” Sorkin’s drama starring Paul Rudd and Drew Barrymore had many hoping for a romantic comedy. But that’s not what they got.

In this case, Sorkin said he held Zoom sessions with stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem along with the rest of the principals. And he told them he wasn’t trying to remake “I Love Lucy.” So he didn’t need impersonations of the actors behind the iconic show. Instead, he was setting out to put his own spin on the classic TV romance between Ball and Desi Arnaz.

‘Being the Ricardos’ Director Stresses Artistic License

Sorkin also wrote the script for “Being the Ricardos.” And he said that he directed the cast to hew to the script, not to the conventional wisdom about “I Love Lucy.” Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz, who approves of Kidman’s casting, has said that a few scenes in the biopic took some artistic liberties. But Sorkin seems to feel that’s his prerogative.

“I’d make it very clear to [the cast] that I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation of these people. Leading up to the first rehearsal, I’d write to them every day, ‘Just play the characters who are in the script,’” Sorkin told THR. “I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that.”

“As far as audience anticipation, that’s something I’m just not worried about,” he added. “I’m certain that when people see the movie, they’ll leave feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself. But moreover, I’ve found that you can really leverage low expectations.”

Sorkin Wanted Kidman to ‘Let Her Hair Down’

The director added that he was trying to show a side of the iconic showbiz couple that audiences of their 1950s CBS show never saw. So he was fired up about the idea that Kidman should “let her hair down” between takes of “I Love Lucy.”

“Now the fact of the matter is when Nicole, as Lucille Ball, plays Lucy Ricardo, I think she does an incredible job of mimicking Lucy. Same with Javier, Nina and J.K. But there is, in total, less than three minutes of ‘I Love Lucy’ in this film,” he said. “And the only reason the ‘I Love Lucy’ material is there is because we’re in Lucy’s head. And we’re seeing that she is a comedic chess master. That she can project ahead to what [the show] is going to look like on Friday night, and how the audience is going to react and whether this joke is going to work. So, finding an actress who looked like Lucille Ball wasn’t important to me.”

Some “I Love Lucy” fans had campaigned hard for actress Debra Messing, and they’ve been pretty vocal about their disappointment. Messing, a natural redhead, is known for her physical comedy. But will true “I Love Lucy” fans skip this biopic? Sorkin is banking on no.

Watch an official trailer for the movie here: