Being the Ricardos: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem tried to back down
Bardem also defends his cast as Desi Arnaz despite not being Cuban.
The internet erupted in disbelief in early 2021 when Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem were cast as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the powerful couple behind “I Love Lucy”. Critics understood that Kidman didn’t look exactly like Ball, and that Javier Bardem is a Spanish actor playing a Cuban-American character. And while the first screenings (the film will be released on Amazon Prime Video on December 21) introduced Kidman and Bardem into the awards conversations for the film directed by Aaron Sorkin, it was never such a safe bet.
In a sprawling new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bardem and Kidman admitted that the enormity of what they undertook didn’t really strike them until they agreed to be chosen.
“I had no idea how big it was,” Bardem said of “I Love Lucy,” which once drew up to 60 million viewers per week in the United States, while adding that he knew mainly Arnaz as a musician who worked with Spanish artist Xavier Cugat. There was a subtitled version in Spain – “Te Quiero Lucy” – but Bardem never saw it. “When I really started digging into him, the deeper I was, the more I knew how iconic I was. [the show] was… it was like, ‘Shit.’ “
“Damn, what did we do?” Kidman said. “I was afraid.”
According to the story, Kidman and Bardem first sent their agents to try and get them out of the movie. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is all falling apart,’ said producer Todd Black, who ultimately dissuaded customer reps from letting them blow it up. The actors then set up a Zoom meeting with Sorkin and begged him to push the movie for a year. Due to the $ 40 million price tag and Amazon’s need for new content during the pandemic, the distributor wanted to move forward quickly.
When Sorkin came back to his cast to tell them that filming was off to a good start on March 29, “So it was like, ‘Oh, no. Oh no. We actually have to do it, ”Kidman said. (Kidman once said that reality hit her only after she was chosen, and that she herself had felt at one point: “I’m not right. Everyone thinks I am. not right. “)
While Sorkin has stood up for his actors, they still stand up for themselves. Later in the Hollywood Reporter interview, Bardem addressed the issue of his nationality and the criticisms that he was not Cuban.
“I’m an actor, and that’s what I do for a living: trying to be people that I’m not,” Bardem said. “What are we doing with Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone?” What do we do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep? Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln? Why is this conversation happening with people with accents? You have your accent. This is where you belong. It’s delicate. Where is that conversation with English speakers doing things like “The Last Duel” where they were supposed to be French in the Middle Ages? It is very good. But me, with my Spanish accent, being Cuban? What I mean is if we want to open the box of worms, let’s open it for everyone. The role came to me, and one thing I’m sure I’m going to give it my all.
“Being the Ricardos” is now showing in select theaters.