Javier Bardem Responds to 'Tricky' Criticism Over His Casting as Desi Arnaz in 'Being the Ricardos'

"If we want to open the can of worms, let's open it for everyone," Javier Bardem said about the debate over his casting as Cuban-American I Love Lucy star Desi Arnaz

Being The Ricardos
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty; Hulton Archive/Getty

Javier Bardem is defending his casting as Desi Arnaz in the new film Being the Ricardos.

In a new cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar winner, 52, and his costar Nicole Kidman talk about portraying the iconic I Love Lucy pair, Arnaz and Lucille Ball, in their new film. The Spanish actor at one point responded to some criticisms about him playing the Cuban-American TV star.

Bardem began, "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."

"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," he 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."

Bardem said when the role came to him, he knew "for sure" that he was "going to give everything that I have."

According to THR, Bardem's rep emailed the magazine 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."

RELATED GALLERY: See the Being the Ricardos Cast Side-by-Side with Their Real-Life Counterparts

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Kidman, 54, faced criticisms for her casting as Ball, as well. The Oscar-winning Australian actress said on Live with Kelly and Ryan earlier this month that she "wasn't initially" anxious about taking the part at first, but it was when the "reality of playing her hit me" that she began to have doubts about being able to faithfully portray the comedy icon.

"I went, 'What have I said yes to?' — to which I then went, 'Oh no, I'm not right. Everyone thinks I'm not right so I'm going to try to sidestep this,' " she said. "And the producer Todd Black and [writer/director] Aaron Sorkin were both like, 'Absolutely not.' I was in Australia and they were like, 'No.' And thank God, because then I was so grateful because I got to fall in love with her."

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

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