Amazon Studios has announced the start of principal photography on writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s next drama film, “Being the Ricardos.” Filming started this week in Los Angeles. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as real-life couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the faces behind the classic 1950s TV sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which centered on the happy but idiosyncratic marriage of Lucille and Ricky Ricardo.
Working in a confined timeframe similar to Sorkin’s script for “Steve Jobs,” “Being the Ricardos” unfolds during one production week of “I Love Lucy” — starting with the Monday table read through Friday filming with a live audience — when Lucy and Desi face a crisis that could end their careers, as well as their marriage.
Kidman stars as Ball opposite fellow Oscar winner Bardem as her husband Desi Arnaz, the Cuban-American actor, musician, and president of their television production company, Desilu Productions.
Kidman ended up replacing Cate Blanchett, and while her casting drew some ire from fans on Twitter, Lucille Ball’s own daughter defended the casting, saying, “Here’s the deal and what you should understand: We’re not doing a remake of ‘I Love Lucy.’ No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo [or do] any of the silly things. It’s the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother — not Lucy Ricardo — and her husband, Desi Arnaz, my dad — not Ricky Ricardo.”
The film co-stars Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda as Lucy and Desi’s “I Love Lucy” co-stars William Frawley and Vivian Vance. Frawley played the Ricardos’ neighbor Fred Mertz on the iconic sitcom, while Vance was Fred’s wife and Lucy’s best friend, Ethel Mertz.
Joining the ensemble in co-starring roles are Tony Hale as “I Love Lucy” executive producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer, along with Alia Shawkat and Jake Lacy as the show’s longtime writing partners, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. Rounding out the cast are Clark Gregg, John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin, Robert Pine, and Christopher Denham.
Sorkin is directing the film from his own original screenplay. This marks his third film as a director after “Molly’s Game” and last year’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” nominated for six Academy Awards this year including Best Picture.
Sorkin’s below-the-line team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Jeff Cronenweth (“The Social Network”), production designer Jon Hutman (“Unbroken”), costume designer Susan Lyall (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), set decorator Ellen Brill (“Bombshell”) three-time Oscar-nominated sound mixer Steven Morrow (“Ford v Ferrari”), and two-time Oscar nominated editor Alan Baumgarten (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).