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Nicole Kidman Almost Backed Out of Lucille Ball Role Because ‘Everyone Thinks I’m Not Right’

Aaron Sorkin and producer Todd Black refused to let Kidman walk away from "Being the Ricardos."

Nicole Kidman, "Being the Ricardos"

Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”

Amazon Studios

Nicole Kidman has had something of a rollercoaster ride with her latest project, “Being the Ricardos.” The Aaron Sorkin–directed drama casts Kidman as television icon and “I Love Lucy” star Lucille Ball. Kidman’s casting was met with initial blowback from fans who felt the Oscar winner looked nothing like Ball, and the backlash only accelerated after the film’s trailers led many fans to complain Kidman sounds nothing like Ball either. Then came the film’s enthusiastic first reactions, which heaped praise on Kidman and silenced the outrage. Now Kidman is in the thick of the Oscar race for Best Actress.

During a visit this week to “Live With Kelly And Ryan” (via NME), Kidman spoke about the “Being the Ricardos” backlash and how it almost led her to back out of the project. Kidman stars as Ball opposite Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz. The film is Sorkin’s third directorial feature following “Molly’s Game” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Sorkin directs from a script her wrote. Years ago, Cate Blanchett was circling the role of Lucille Ball.

“When the reality of playing her hit me, I went, ‘What I have said yes to?'” Kidman said. “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.’ 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.”

Sorkin has defended Kidman from the start. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last month, Sorkin said he was not looking for an actress to impersonate Lucille Ball’s voice and mannerisms. Instead, Sorkin wanted the best actress to play the character of Lucille Ball that he wrote in the “Being the Ricardos” script. That actress was Kidman.

“We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them that I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation of these people,” Sorkin said. “Leading up to the first rehearsal, I’d write to them every day, ‘Just play the characters who are in the script.’ I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that.”

Sorkin continued, “As far as audience anticipation, that’s something I’m just not worried about. I’m certain that when people see the movie, they’ll leave feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself.”

“Being the Ricardos” will open in select theaters December 10, followed by a streaming launch December 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

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