‘Being the Ricardos’: Nicole Kidman Had ‘Massive Trepidation’ the Last Month Before Playing Lucille Ball
Being the Ricardos‘ Nicole Kidman did not take playing Lucille Ball lightly. Following the first screening of the movie, Kidman admitted she had “massive trepidation” the whole month leading up to filming to biopic, which co-stars Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. Her fear came from the pressure of playing one of television’s biggest icons. But writer and director Aaron Sorkin had no doubts she would crush her performance. Here’s how Sorkin helped her feel confident leading up to the first day of filming Being the Ricardos.
‘Being the Ricardos’: Nicole Kidman was nervous to play Lucille Ball
The first press screening of Being the Ricardos took place in Los Angeles on Nov. 13. Kidman and Bardem partook in a Q&A after the screening. And they were joined by other members of the Being the Ricardos cast, as well as Sorkin. That’s when the Oscar winner revealed how terrified she was just before filming started.
“I had massive trepidation about a month prior. And Aaron had to get on the phone and send me some emails saying, ‘You’ve got this,’” Kidman said, according to Variety. “He had to sort of champion me through. And this whole cast, actually, we were really, really championing each other through the whole show. Because it was frightening, but incredibly exciting.”
Kidman admitted she “didn’t know the woman behind Lucy” before taking on the role. Because of her love of the iconic sitcom and Ball’s performance in it, Kidman really wanted to deliver a believable portrayal of the actor. But Sorkin was less interested in Kidman and Bardem delivering Lucy and Desi impersonations. And he made that clear in the reminders he’d send the cast before filming started. Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter:
“We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them 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.’ I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that.”
Nicole Kidman fell in love with the Lucille Ball even more while reading Aaron Sorkin’s script
Kidman was then asked if not knowing the behind-the-scenes Lucy might have helped her performance, since the movie has very little recreated scenes from I Love Lucy.
“When I read the script, I was just turning the pages,” she said. “And I fell in love with them. But as I explored and really delved into her, I realized her genius.” Kidman continued:
“I realized what she was doing in terms of trailblazing for so many women, and her ability to just take things on and then recover from failure, which I thought was fantastic. She would get up, brush herself off with Desi’s help, and she would just move forward and tackle things. And actually, her biggest failures turned out to be the thing that would drive her into the next success and ultimately lead her into what we now revere. What they did together, I think, was gorgeous.”
Being the Ricardos takes place during one week on set of I Love Lucy. Viewers will see the behind-the-scenes work that went behind producing one episode of the 1950s sitcom, from the first table read at the beginning of the week to the live taping on Friday. But the stakes will be extra high as Ball deals with accusations of being a communist during the McCarthyism era.
Being the Ricardos comes out in theaters Dec. 10 and on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 21.