Nicole Kidman on Channeling Lucille Ball in ‘Being the Ricardos’ Biopic: ‘It Was My Obsession’

by Josh Lanier
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Nicole Kidman said she realized playing Lucille Ball would be hard, but she didn’t know it would take over her life. The Oscar-winning actress will play Ball in the upcoming biopic Being the Ricardos, and she wanted to nail the performance. It became her “obsession.”

Nicole Kidman said she spent hours watching episodes of I Love Lucy as part of her preparation. She took notes on how Ball moved and carried herself, she explained during a Q&A following a screening of the film last weekend.

“I studied them and learned them,” Kidman said of the episodes, according to People magazine. “It went into my body and memory.”

The 54-year-old will play opposite of Javier Bardem, who will star as Ball’s husband Dezi Arnaz. The movie will follow the couple as they must fight to keep their marriage and show from falling apart.

“It was my obsession to get it absolutely accurate,” she added. “It was [writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s] obsession to have this human being portrayed — what’s behind the creation of Lucy Ricardo, and who is the woman behind this character?”

When news broke earlier this year that Sorkin hired Nicole Kidman to play Lucille Ball, fans weren’t happy. Many wanted Debra Messing to play the comedienne, and the former Will & Grace star lobbied for the part. Even Kidman said she had reservations about taking the role.

“I had massive trepidation about a month prior. Aaron [Sorkin] had to get on the phone and send me some emails saying, ‘You’ve got this,” Kidman said last week.

But much of that fan backlash died down as the studio released behind-the-scenes photos and trailers for the film. The latest of which includes a re-creation of the iconic grape-stomping scene from I Love Lucy. Critics are already applauding her performance in early reviews of the film.

Lucie Arnaz Raves Over Performance of Nicole Kidman

One of Kidman’s biggest backers is Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz. Aaron Sorkin invited the 70-year-old to the set to watch them film some scenes from Being the Ricardos. That sold her on Kidman.

I was blown away,” she said in a Facebook post shortly after returning from the set in May. Arnaz couldn’t say much more at the time. She elaborated later that she was impressed with Kidman’s process.

“Nicole did a spectacular job,” Arnaz said. “The two days that I watched, though, were both little flashbacks, so she was playing Lucy in the late ’30s and mid-’40s. She wasn’t Lucy of Lucy Ricardo fame yet, so it was a trifle different.

“And I know she meant it to be, so it could feel different. But boy, what she did was astounding. She’s got such poise and class.”

Nicole Kidman said it was important for her to get Lucie Arnaz’s endorsement.

“It’s been a huge, huge relief because it’s her parents, and we wanted to honor them but we wanted to show them with their flaws,” she said at a recent panel.Javier (Bardem) had his own conversations with her. She was very supportive of us. She wanted us to play the roles.”

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