Nicole Kidman Reveals She Tried to 'Sidestep' Playing Lucille Ball After Casting Backlash
The Oscar-winning actress appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan where she spoke about starring in Being the Ricardos, which follows Ball and her then-husband and costar Desi Arnaz as they manage a crisis that could end their careers and their marriage.
"Were you anxious about taking the role?" co-host Kelly Ripa asked Kidman.
"I wasn't initially. Initially, Aaron Sorkin wrote this screenplay that you read and you cannot put down," Kidman, 54, said. "I say to people: If you can get your hands on this screenplay, read it because it's such a good read. It's as good as a great novel."
It was when the "reality of playing her hit me" that Kidman 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 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."
When co-host Ryan Seacret complimented Kidman on making "such great choices" in her career, Kidman laughed and said, "They're all spontaneous, crazy. If you knew how random they are, and how spontaneous they are, You'd be like, 'Man….' "
"I'm very [mimics an explosion] which drives Keith crazy," she added. "It's very teenage, my choices."
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Being the Ricardos also stars Javier Bardem as Arnaz, as well as Nina Arianda, J.K. Simmons, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, Linda Lavin, Jake Lacy and John Rubinstein.
The movie takes place during one week of filming the couple's famous sitcom I Love Lucy, during which Lucy and Desi "are 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.
News of Kidman's casting brought on backlash from fans who thought other actresses should play the legendary actress in the Sorkin film.
Kidman previously said taking on the role of Ball was daunting because it was out of her "comfort zone," but added that she hoped she was funny as the famous comedian. Despite her self-doubt, Kidman got the approval of Ball and Arnaz's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, who praised the actress as "spectacular" in the role.
"What she did was astounding," Lucie told Palm Springs Life. "She's got such poise and class."
Being the Ricardos debuts in theaters Dec. 10 and on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 21.