The marriage of Lucille Ball and and Desi Arnaz hit the big screen in the 2021 biopic Being the Ricardos. Set during a week of filming the legendary sitcom I Love Lucy, the film depicted Ball and Arnaz’s tumultuous relationship as well as what went on behind the scenes of the iconic comedy. The couple’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, was involved in the movie-making process and revealed that director/screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took some of creative license in several scenes.
Lucie Arnaz gave Aaron Sorkin creative freedom on ‘Being the Ricardos’
Sorkin was initially hesitant to take on the project. With Ball and Arnaz still beloved decades after their classic sitcom ended, The Social Network director was concerned on how much freedom he would have on sharing details of their lives. Lucie gave Sorkin the push he needed when she granted him the green light to “go for it” in his storytelling.
“There are people who are really passionate about I Love Lucy,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in November 2021.[Lucie] very helpful in getting me to a yes. We all had lunch together, and she said to me, ‘I know my mother wasn’t an easy woman. Take the gloves off.’ In other words, you can go for it.”
Being the Ricardos features Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance, and J. K. Simmons as Fred Mertz. Sources for details during the I Love Lucy era were hard to find, but Sorkin honed in on some key areas of the couple.
“There were just all of these interesting conflicts, and that’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “Points of friction that add up to something that you can write about. … Lucy, in particular, was not an easy woman, and I just saw the potential for scenes that could add up to something. And I thought, ‘OK, if I swing well, I’ll hit it.’”
Aaron Sorkin took ‘theatrical license’, according to Lucie Arnaz
Lucie admitted that she attempted to have a few scenes taking out of Being the Ricardos, stating that the events didn’t take place as depicted in the movie.
“I mean, there are certain scenes that I wished hadn’t been in the feature film,” she told Palm Springs Life in August 2021. “I couldn’t get my way and have them taken out, but they weren’t accurate. And I thought, ‘That shouldn’t be in there, because that never happened. That’s not true.’ And it’s not just theatrical license, it just wasn’t true.”
Ball and Arnaz’s daughter described the backstory of the scenes in question, revealing that those instances didn’t unfold as Sorkin created them in the film.
“There are a few scenes where they’re at their house in Chatsworth, before working, after working,” Lucie explained. “There are two or three short flashback scenes to her life before I Love Lucy, when she worked on the radio show, when she was trying to convince the network to hire dad. But stuff happens that week that didn’t happen altogether the way Aaron has written it. He’s taking some theatrical license and sort of cramming a couple of true events that did happen, they just didn’t happen at the same time.”
Lucie Arnaz praised ‘Being the Ricardos’
Despite noting some inaccuracies, Lucie commended Sorkin on his screenplay and how he presented her parents’ story. She also raved of the cast in Being the Ricardos.
“You do learn a lot about what it was like back then,” she remarked. “[Sorkin’s] dialogue is always incredible. And I think he treated my mother and my father really well. I think they are accurate composites of these people. … I was on the set for just two days. What I saw was extraordinarily classy and first rate. The people that he has cast are just really great performers.”