Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos starring Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (Best Actress, The Hours) and Oscar winner Javier Bardem (Best Supporting Actor, No Country for Old Men) has begun shooting in Los Angeles. Kidman stars as Lucille Ball and Bardem is playing Desi Arnaz in the Amazon Studios and Escape Artists drama focusing on the couple’s marriage and their iconic television series, I Love Lucy.
Joining Kidman and Bardem in bringing the couple’s love story to life are Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as I Love Lucy‘s William Frawley and Nina Arianda (Stan & Ollie) as Vivian Vance. Two-time Emmy winner Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development) will play I Love Lucy executive producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer. Alia Shawkat (Search Party, Arrested Development) and Jake Lacy (Fosse/Verdon, The Office) are on board to co-star as I Love Lucy writing partners, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr.
The cast will also include Clark Gregg (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Nelson Franklin (Veep), John Rubinstein (Family), Linda Lavin (The Good Wife), Robert Pine (CHiPs), and Christopher Denham (Billions).
“Being the Ricardos is a drama about the people behind the making of television’s most famous comedy. I’m looking forward to working with Nicole, Javier, J.K., Nina, and the rest of our great cast,” stated writer-director Aaron Sorkin.
Being the Ricardos marks Aaron Sorkin’s third film as director. His second, The Trial of the Chicago 7, has been nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr will be involved as executive producers.
“My brother Desi and I signed on because this is a story of our folk’s real-life passionate, tempestuous and complicated relationship and not a recreation of I Love Lucy – no one could do that. We felt exploring that relationship could be an enlightening challenge. We asked Amazon for the best and we got it with every hire. Aaron Sorkin has not told this tale as a ‘cradle to grave’ biopic. Instead, he’s chosen to illuminate a snippet of time during an incredibly intense period of their show’s enduring success. The casting choices have all been inspired and Desi and I are so looking forward to seeing what this impressive group of actors make of Sorkin’s delicious script,” explained Lucie Arnaz.
Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch of Escape Artists are producing. Jenna Block, David Bloomfield of Escape Artists, Stuart Besser, and Lauren Lohman are attached as executive producers.
Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network, Gone Girl) is the director of photography, Jon Hutman (Unbroken) is the production designer, Susan Lyall (The Trial of the Chicago 7, Molly’s Game) is the costume designer. Oscar nominee Alan Baumgarten (The Trial of the Chicago 7) is the editor, Ellen Brill (American Horror Story) is the set decorator, and Oscar nominee Steven Morrow (Ford v Ferrari, A Star is Born) is the sound mixer.
Amazon Studios released the following description of the Being the Ricardos plot:
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as real-life couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the stars behind the groundbreaking and classic 1950s television sitcom I Love Lucy, that focused on a happily married though seemingly mismatched couple – a flame-haired, accident-prone American housewife, and her sensible Cuban-American bandleader husband – that became the top-rated and most beloved show of the era.
Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman is the eponymous redheaded star of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball, and fellow Oscar winner Javier Bardem is her husband, Desi Arnaz, the Cuban-American actor, musician, and president of their television production company, Desilu Productions. On I Love Lucy, Ball and Arnaz portrayed America’s most famous TV couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. But in real life their relationship was infamously more complex and tumultuous than the hilarious fictional characters they portray.
The film is set during one production week of I Love Lucy — Monday table read through Friday audience filming — when Lucy and Desi face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.