Being the Ricardos writer-director Aaron Sorkin and stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda joined Deadline’s Contenders Film: New York showcase to discuss the Amazon Studios biopic of sorts about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, played by Kidman and Bardem, respectively.
For the film, Sorkin chose to compress a series of true events in the lives of the iconic married TV stars into one production week of making I Love Lucy — the Monday table read through Friday audience filming. Those plot points include Ball being accused at the time of being a Communist, a crisis that could have ended the trailblazing couple’s rocketing careers that besides the sitcom including running their own Hollywood studio.
“There were these wonderful points of friction…” Sorkin said about the story’s structure, developed with help from producers Jenna Block and Todd Black. “There are three big events …they didn’t happen in the same week, but I made them happen in the same week for the sake of our film.”
Kidman discussed how she morphed into playing both Lucille the person and Lucy the character played by Ball, describing how with a dialogue coach she found the voices for each. And all four stars — Kidman, Bardem, Simmons and Arianda (the latter two play Lucy and Desi’s I Love Lucy co-stars William Frawley and Vivian Vance — shared when it was that they first felt they were inhibiting their characters. For most, it was little moments, as Bardem said, where “magic happens.”
“I felt it when I wrapped,” Bardem joked. “Now I get it — maybe it was a little too late.”
The film was shot over eight weeks during the pandemic, and the team recalled the memorable first table read — which took place on the roof of a parking garage on a windy day with masks on. They also would do their dance rehearsals up there.
“Everybody shouted so we could be heard,” Sorkin recalled of that first read.
“Those intimate scenes,” Bardem added, laughing. “Screaming out, ‘I love you so much!’ What was that?”
“‘Are you cheating on me?!! Are you cheating on me?!!” Kidman said, using Ball’s raspy voice.
‘Being The Ricardos’ Trailer: First Extended Look At Nicole Kidman & Javier Bardem As ‘I Love Lucy’ Legends
Amazon opens the pic December 10 in theaters before bowing it 11 days later on Prime Video.
Check back Monday for the panel video.
The sponsors for Contenders Film: New York are Michter’s Distillery, Los Siete Misterios Mezcal, Eyepetizer, and modMD.
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