Aaron Sorkin Defends Casting Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball: 'She's Not at All Lucy Ricardo'

"I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation," Aaron Sorkin said in defense of casting Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in the upcoming biopic Being the Ricardos

Aaron Sorkin, nicole kidman
Photo: prime video. Inset: getty

Aaron Sorkin has heard the complaints about casting Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, but he stands by his choice.

The Academy Award-winning screenwriter, 60, commented on the reactions to the upcoming biopic Being the Ricardos in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, as he defended his decision to cast Kidman, 54, as Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz.

"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," he said. "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.

"As far as audience anticipation, that's something I'm just not worried about. I'm certain that when people see the movie, they'll leave feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself, but moreover, I've found that you can really leverage low expectations," Sorkin added.

He also made it clear that the movie only features "less than three minutes" of Ball performing on her and Arnaz's sitcom I Love Lucy, painting a much broader portrait of the couple's life and relationship.

being the ricardos movie poster
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"So, finding an actress who looked like Lucille Ball wasn't important to me, especially because I was excited by the idea that Lucille Ball doesn't look like Lucille Ball — and that every time we're seeing Lucille Ball not as Lucy Ricardo, she should both literally and metaphorically let her hair down. Let her be what she's not allowed to be on TV in 1952 on CBS. Let her be a woman. Let her be sexy. You weren't allowed to be sexy on TV."

Sorkin also wanted to emphasize the "contrast" between Lucy and Lucille. With the blessing of Lucie Arnaz, Lucille and Desi's daughter, he was able to depict a version of the comedian not seen onscreen.

"And looking at these home movies that [her daughter] Lucie Arnaz gave me of Lucy and Desi just hanging out by the pool, you have to look twice, like, is that Marilyn? She's not at all Lucy Ricardo," Sorkin said. "And I was excited by that contrast."

RELATED VIDEO: Nicole Kidman Channels Lucille Ball in First Photos from the Set of Being the Ricardos

Written and directed by Sorkin, Being the Ricardos is set during a week of filming I Love Lucy, as the couple is "threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear, and cultural taboos," per the film's official description. Lucy and Desi were married in 1940 and later split in 1960.

See Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem in Being the Ricardos, premiering Dec. 10 in theaters and Dec. 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

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