Writer-director Aaron Sorkin defends ‘Being The Ricardos’ over casting criticism

By Brent Furdyk.

11 seconds ago

Ever since the first trailer for the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz biography “Being the Ricardos” fell, the Amazon Prime Video feature has been hit by backlash on social media over the casting of Nicole Kidman as the legendary sitcom comedian.

One complaint is that Kidman does not look like the “I Love Lucy” star, while another is that Debra Messing should have been the obvious choice, given her resemblance to Ball and the similar gift for physical comedy she showed in all those seasons of “Will”. & Grace “.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s author and director, Aaron Sorkin, confronts the critics and explains why he chose to cast Kidman.

READ MORE: Nicole Kidman brings the real Lucille Ball to life in the trailer ‘Being The Ricardos’

“I could not cast Desi until we had our Lucy. What I needed was someone who absolutely owns it. And you get to choose from a small pool of world-class actresses. This is not for beginners, as Lucy says. This is supposed to be a kind of tour de force performance, ”he explained. “And then when Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem and JK Simmons and Nina Arianda say they want to make your film, your casting search is over. You start making graphs and charts and that and that, and then all of a sudden it’s easy. ”

In fact, Sorkin was convinced that casting the roles based on physical equality would lack the point.

“We made this movie during COVID, and then in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I wanted to make it very clear to them that I’m not looking for a physical or vocal imitation of these people. Before the first exercise wrote I to them every day: “Just play the characters that are in the script,” he said.

“I know Nicole worked on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I would absolve her of that. As for audience expectation, it’s something I’m just not worried about. I’m sure when people watch the film, they leave the feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself, but moreover, I have found that you can really take advantage of low expectations. I learned that with ‘The Social Network’. People assumed it would be a romantic comedy in which Paul Rudd ‘friends’ Drew Barrymore and they fall in love.And I just thought, ‘Well, they do not expect what they are about to see,’ Sorkin continued.

READ MORE: Nicole Kidman stomps grapes while Lucille Ball joins Javier Bardem in the first trailer for ‘Being The Ricardos’

“The thing is, when Nicole, like Lucille Ball, plays Lucy Ricardo, I think she’s doing an incredible job of imitating Lucy. Same with Javier, Nina and JK But there’s a total of less than three minutes of ‘I Love Lucy ‘in this movie, and the only reason the’ I Love Lucy ‘material is there is because we’re in Lucy’s head and we see that she’s a comic chess master, that she can project up to what [the show] is going to look like Friday night and how the audience is going to react and whether this joke is going to work. So it was not important for me to find an actress who looked like Lucille Ball, especially because I was excited about the idea that Lucille Ball does not look like Lucille Ball – and that every time we see Lucille Ball not like Lucy Ricardo, she should both literally and metaphorically let the hair fall. Let her be what she is not allowed to be on TV in 1952 on CBS. Let her be a woman. Let her be sexy. You must not be sexy on TV. ”

Sorkin also discussed controversy over casting Javier – who hails from Spain – as the proud Cuban Arnaz.

“First of all, Amazon’s casting department had a Latina casting consultant [who was focused on all Latinx casting] on board. I found out, for example, because there was an actor I was considering who was Brazilian, and I was told by the casting consultant that Brazilians are not considered Latinos because they speak Portuguese. So Javier is Spanish and the casting consultant was fine with that. But I do not want to use the casting consultant as cover. I want to tell you my opinion on this, and I stand by it, which is this: Spanish and Cuban are not action-packed, okay? They are not active. By the way, none of them are straight and gay. Because I know there’s a little movement going on that only gay actors should play gay characters. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are not active. You could perform by being attracted to someone, but most nouns are not actionable, ”he explained.

READ MORE: Lucille Ball’s daughter about wanting certain inaccurate scenes taken out of ‘Being The Ricardos’: ‘It was just not true’

“We know when we will be degrading. We know Blackface is degrading because of its historical context because you make ridiculous cartoon cartoons of people. We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and the makeup that makes silly Japanese speech, we know it’s degrading. It’s not, I felt. Having an actor born in Spain play a character born in Cuba was not degrading. And it was not just the casting consultant who agreed, Lucy and Desi’s Cuban-American daughter did not have a problem with it, ”he added. “So I’m very comfortable with that.”

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