Nicole Kidman’s ‘Being the Ricardos’ Transformation Included Wigs, Prosthetics, and Lowering Her Voice

For actors, undergoing a transformation in order to make a movie role come to life is par for the course, but some makeovers are more stunning than others. Nicole Kidman’s recent part in Being the Ricardos has earned her accolades for being able to take on the challenging part of Lucille Ball. 

Ball’s legacy is certainly a larger-than-life one, and many worried that Kidman would not be up to the task. When all was said and done, she blended her superior acting skills with wigs and prosthetics to make a convincing portrayal of the beloved and complicated comedy great. 

Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in 'Being the Ricardos.' She wears a red wig with the hair pulled back in a ponytail and a floral button-up shirt while on the fictional set of 'I Love Lucy.'
Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in ‘Being the Ricardos’ | YouTube/Amazon Prime Video

‘Being the Ricardos’ takes a look behind the scenes of ‘I Love Lucy’

Ball and Desi Arnaz wowed audiences when they brought their real-life romance onto the screen as the fictional characters Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. The nonstop gags of I Love Lucy gave viewers at home a positive — almost giddy — impression of the pair’s love, but the real-life story wasn’t quite so rosy

Being the Ricardos leans into the darker side of the tale. With Kidman taking on the part of Ball and Javier Bardem playing Arnaz, viewers of the 2021 film got to see a much more mature and sexually-charged version of their relationship that undercut the hokey, sanitized one they might remember from the sitcom. Though the couple’s daughter has come forward to call out some inaccuracies in the film depicting her famous parents’ lives, many feel that the movie captured something important that had often been overlooked about the pair. 

Nicole Kidman’s performance in ‘Being the Ricardos’ earns praise

The reviews for Being the Ricardos were mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie gets a 67% critic score, earning it a “Fresh” rating — but just barely. One consistent area of praise, however, has been Kidman’s portrayal of Ball. A glance through the reviews shows Amber Wilkinson pointing to how Kidman “captures the comedy star’s forthright energy.” Jeffrey M. Anderson writes that “Kidman manages some dazzling Ball-like comedic bits.” 

Indeed, Kidman’s ability to transform into her iconic character seems to have impressed across the board, and it came with the help of some ingenious costume work. 

Speaking with Vanity Fair, Kidman explained “I studied every single facial expression and every move she made. I was obsessed with getting it absolutely right. Following her movements and timing just showed what a genius she was.” A dialect coach helped her get the voice right, but it wasn’t enough to just nail the pronunciation. “Lucille was a heavy smoker, so she had a voice that was a lot deeper than mine. I was able to work with my coach, who was able to help me lower my voice,” Kidman explained. 

In addition, makeup, wigs, and “minimal” prosthetics were used to give Kidman even more of a transformed look. 

Nicole Kidman has transformed her appearance for roles many times

Kidman has been acting consistently since the 1980s, and her filmography includes a wide range of parts. From playful role like portraying Samantha in the big screen adaptation of Bewitched to sexy and intriguing displays like the one she took on for Eyes Wide Shut to dramatic parts like that in Big Little Lies, Kidman has demonstrated an impressive range. 

As Insider reports, that range has taken her through multiple physical transformations. She earned accolades for her stunning ability to take on the appearance of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, another real-life role that was aided with prosthetics and costume. In Top of the Lake, she took on makeup and hairstyles that aged her considerably to play the part of Julia Edwards. In Destroyer, she lost the glitz that so often accompanies her in real life to portray a rough and tumble undercover officer. 

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