Nicole Kidman admitted to Chris Rock that she is “free-falling” as she tries to figure out how to play Lucille Ball for Being the Ricardos.
They spoke as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors interview series. And Rock wanted to know how Kidman was handling such an iconic role.
“I’ve had to put in an enormous amount of time on Lucille Ball right now because she has a very particular way of speaking,” Kidman explained.
Rock, a comedian, called Lucille Ball “just one of the most talented people to ever roam the earth.” And it’s that kind of pressure that has her so worried. “I am way out of my comfort zone right now, Chris! I’m free-falling,” Kidman said. “I’d like to be funny. I’m never cast funny.”
Rock stressed that Nicole Kidman better make sure Lucille Ball is funny in the movie. But Kidman pressed back a little.
“Lucille Ball is hopefully funny,” Kidman 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.”
Nicole Kidman was already under a tremendous amount of expectations for the role. Fans wanted Deborah Messing to play the role, and she pressed producers hard for the part. When it was announced Kidman would play Lucille Ball, the backlash was swift. But much of that has died down as on-set photos have leaked showing Nicole Kidman in costume.
Kidman hopes the move captures just how important Ball was for women in the entertainment industry.
“She was a trailblazer. 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…” Kidman expressed.
Nicole Kidman, Director Discuss Movie’s Message
As Nicole Kidman told Chris Rock, the movie isn’t a remake of I Love Lucy. And writer/director Aaron Sorkin has been clear that the movie is only using the show as a framing device.
“The film takes place during a production week of I Love Lucy…,” Sorkin once 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.”
Javier Bardem portrays Desi Arnaz with J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda, playing William Frawley and Vivian Vance. But the center theme of the movie will hinge on Kidman’s performance.
Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, said it would be unfair to ask Kidman to recreate I Love Lucy. Because this is a story about real people going through a real struggle in their personal and professional lives.
“We are not doing a remake of I Love Lucy. No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vitameatavegamin routine, or the chocolate factory routine or any of the silly things,” Arnaz said in a Facebook video. “It’s the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Dezi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo.”