Aaron Sorkin Says Only Casting Gay Actors in Gay Roles Is 'Empty Gesture'

The filmmaker made the statement when commenting on the criticism he's received for casting Javier Bardem, a Spaniard, in the role of Cuban entertainer Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos

Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Aaron Sorkin is continuing to stand by his casting decisions for his new film Being the Ricardos.

The Academy Award-winning screenwriter, 60, spoke to The Times of London on Sunday and commented further on his decision to cast Javier Bardem, a Spaniard, in the role of Cuban entertainer Desi Arnaz for his recent biopic on Arnaz and Lucille Ball (the latter played by Nicole Kidman).

"You can act being attracted to someone, but can't act gay or straight. So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi?" Sorkin said. "Honestly, I think it's the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea."

Specifically of his move on casting Bardem, Sorkin told the publication that he's saddened at the the pushback he's received. "It's heartbreaking, and a little chilling to see members of the artistic community resegregating ourselves," the Social Network scribe said.

Sorkin's words were met with pushback on social media. "Aaron Sorkin doesn't understand that it's not about only gay actors playing gay characters or only Cubans playing Desi," wrote editor and podcast host Lyra Hale. "It's about underrepresented communities having an opportunity to take a part in the stories being told with an authenticity others don't understand. Simple."

Representatives for Sorkin did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

RELATED VIDEO: Being the Ricardos Clip: Nicole Kidman's Lucille Ball Tells I Love Lucy Writers She's Pregnant

Meanwhile Bardem, 52, spoke about his casting last week, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "I'm an actor, and that's what I do for a living: try to be people that I'm not."

"What do we do with Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone [in The Godfather]? What do we do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep [in The Iron Lady]? Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln [in Lincoln]? Why does this conversation happen with people with accents? 'You have your accent. That's where you belong.' That's tricky," he said.

"Where is that conversation with English-speaking people doing things like The Last Duel, where they were supposed to be French people in the Middle Ages? That's fine," Bardem continued, "but me, with my Spanish accent, being Cuban? What I mean is, if we want to open the can of worms, let's open it for everyone. ... We should all start not allowing anybody to play Hamlet unless they were born in Denmark."

According to THR, Bardem emailed the publication a day after the interview to add more of the star's thoughts on the matter, acknowledging, "I do recognize that there are many underrepresented voices and stories that need to be told, and we should collectively do better to provide access and opportunities for more American Latino stories and storytellers."

being the ricardos
Kidman and Bardem in Being the Ricardos. Glen Wilson/ Amazon Content Services LLC

Sorkin also spoke about his casting decisions with THR in a separate interview last month.

"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," he added.

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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 split in 1960.

Being the Ricardos is now playing in select theaters and streaming Dec. 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

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