When word got out that Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem would be playing Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos, many scratched their heads: Kidman isn’t exactly the spitting image of Ball, and Bardem isn’t exactly Cuban. Turns out, the actors were a bit confused by the casting themselves. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kidman and Bardem said they actually tried to get out of the film before shooting began.
“I wasn’t aware of how big it was,” Bardem, who grew up in Spain, said of I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz’s sitcom-inventing television show. The actor mostly knew of Arnaz from his music with Spanish musician Xavier Cugat. “When I really started digging into him, the deeper I got, the more I knew how iconic [the show] was … it was like, ‘Shit,’” he said.
“Shit, what did we do?” Kidman echoed. “I got frightened.”
The actors then entered a back-and-forth with Being the Ricardos‘ production team. When producer Todd Black talked the duo into staying with the film, they then begged the studio to push the movie back a year. But Amazon, the film’s distributor, was hungry for pandemic-era content, and Sorkin feared re-syncing the schedules of his Oscar-nominated leads would be impossible.
“So then it was like, ‘Oh, no. Oh, no. We actually have to do this,’” Kidman said.
Filming for Being the Ricardos went on as planned, and it hit theaters December 10th (it comes to Amazon Prime Video on December 21st). The film features the titular couple coping with a wild week of production on the iconic sitcom, alongside co-stars Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, J.K. Simmons, Jake Lacy, and more.
Next up, Kidman will star in Robert Eggers’ The Northman. As for Bardem, he recently starred in Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune, while Sorkin won a Golden Globe for his screenplay of The Trial of the Chicago 7.