Nicole Kidman Wasn’t the First Choice for the Lucille Ball Biopic

There is a biographical drama in the works about one of television’s most famous couples: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The two developed the sitcom I Love Lucy under Desilu Productions. The new Amazon Studios biopic, Being the Ricardos, will focus on their marriage and careers.

The film will star Nicole Kidman as Ball. But viewers might not realize one detail about the film’s casting process: Kidman wasn’t the first choice; another high-profile actor was. As Lucy from I Love Lucy might say in a high-pitched tone, “Ugh.”

Lucille Ball performing as Lucy Ricardo on the phone in 'I love Lucy'
Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo in ‘I Love Lucy’ | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

What is the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz biopic about?

Directed by Aaron Sorkin, Being the Ricardos is set over the course of one week during the production of I Love Lucy. Ball and Arnaz face a problem that could damage their relationship and careers.

A trailer has not yet been released. Filming began in late March 2021.

Kidman was cast as Ball at the beginning of 2021, along with Javier Bardem filling the role of Arnaz. J.K. Simmons will portray William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on the 1950s sitcom; Nina Arianda will be Vivan Vance, who portrayed Ethel Mertz.

Kidman is recognized for various movie roles, including Eyes Wide Shut, The Others, and Bombshell. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Virginia Wolf in The Hours. Also, the Aquaman star was cast in several TV roles for Big Little Lies, The Undoing, and Nine Perfect Strangers.

Bardem is renowned for his roles in No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, Boca a Boca, Mother!, and Everybody Knows. He became the first Spanish actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Simmons is another familiar face; he is known for his roles in the original Spider-Man trilogy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man films, and Whiplash. The actor is also recognized for several Farmers Insurance commercials.

Who else was considered for the Lucille Ball biopic?

Amazon Studios was the first to announce the project in 2015 with Sorkin writing the screenplay. Cate Blanchett was the original choice to portray Ball. Similar to Kidman, Blanchett is Australian.

Blanchett has portrayed numerous historical figures, including Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth and Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. She left the Lucille Ball project by 2021 for unknown reasons, and Kidman replaced her.

According to Deadline, Ball and Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, defended Kidman’s casting. “Stop arguing about who should play it — ‘she doesn’t look like her, her nose isn’t the same she isn’t as funny,'” Lucie Arnaz said about the complaints surrounding the casting. “Just trust us. It’s going to be a nice film, and p.s. the voting is over.”

Lucie Arnaz didn’t prefer a few scenes in the biopic

Lucie Arnaz wanted a few scenes removed from Being the Ricardos due to their inaccuracy, according to an interview with Palm Springs Life.

“I mean, there are certain scenes that I wished hadn’t been in the feature film,” she said. “I couldn’t get my way and have them taken out, but they weren’t accurate. 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.”

She added that Sorkin “sort of [crammed] a couple of events that did happen, they just didn’t happen at the same time.”

Nevertheless, Lucie Arnaz said Kidman “did a spectacular job” as her mother, adding that “what she did was astounding.” She also said Sorkin “treated my mother and father really well.”

The release date for Being the Ricardos has not been announced.

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