Nicole Kidman on playing Lucille Ball: ‘Yikes, off we go, give it a go, try my best’

Nicole Kidman greet fans at the 'Bombshell' premiere in Westwood

It was just a few weeks ago that we heard that Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are in serious talks to play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in a film written by… Aaron Sorkin. What a strange f–king sentence, at every level. Even if you could argue that Nicole might do interesting work as Lucy, you still have to contend with Javier as Desi, and the two of them doing walk-and-talks in a circle around the I Love Lucy production as they fight about campaign finance reform. Maybe it will be one of those “it’s so bad, it’s actually pretty great” projects. Anyway, the bulk of the criticism and consternation has been centered Nicole’s casting as Lucille Ball and how there were several other redheaded actresses who could probably do a much better job with the role. Nicole spoke with Variety about the project (it sounds like she’s definitely been cast now, for sure) and she said words:

Nicole Kidman is now taking at least a couple months off work. She shot “The Northman,” Robert Eggers’ follow-up to “The Lighthouse,” during the pandemic as well as the Hulu limited series “Nine Perfect Strangers.” It was recently announced she’s playing Lucille Ball opposite Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos.” “I was like, ‘Yeah, I would love to give it a go,’” Kidman says. “With Aaron’s words and his direction and Javier … that’s kind of a wonderful prospect to, you know. But yikes, off we go. Give it a go. Try my best—see if I can do it.”

Kidman’s been watching a lot of “I Love Lucy.” “I love Lucille, having looked now and delved into her,” Kidman says. “She’s an amazing woman. I’m very excited for people to see what Aaron found out about her and the way he’s interpreted Desi and Lucy and the way that it’s so rich. I didn’t know any of this.”

[From Variety]

I’ve gone through phases where I loved Nicole and her work, then I hated all of the crap she did to her face, then I thought she made terrible choices for which projects she signed onto, and lately, I’ve been back to defending her and loving her and her work. But I think I might be going through another “thanks, I hate it” phase. She’s lived in America long enough to know how important Lucille Ball was and is to so many American actresses and comedians. Instead of coming at the project with promises to diligently try to get Lucille correct, Nicole is basically like “sure, whatever, I can do it and if I can’t, oh well.” There’s a disconnect there. God, I wish Amy Adams and Bobby Cannavale were playing Lucy and Desi.

Lucille Ball and husband  Desi Arnaz at

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.

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25 Responses to “Nicole Kidman on playing Lucille Ball: ‘Yikes, off we go, give it a go, try my best’”

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  1. sa says:

    I don’t hate it. I wouldn’t get it if they were doing an I Love Lucy remake or something along those lines, but from interviews with Lucille Ball it’s obvious that she wasn’t Lucy Ricardo. So while I can’t imagine Nicole Kidman playing Lucy Ricardo, I don’t hate the idea of her playing Lucille Ball.

    • Darla says:

      A really important distinction sa.

      • LightPurple says:

        A very important one that people seem to be missing. I found myself almost screaming at Debra Messing on Twitter. It’s NOT a remake of I Love Lucy. It’s the story of what was going on behind the scenes of I Love Lucy. A middle-aged couple bringing what would become a historic television series, a production company, and two kids into the world at the same time while their marriage was disintegrating and she was becoming one of the most successful and powerful people in show business. ,

  2. Darla says:

    I know she’s not popular with the commenters here, but I love her, and I say she is top of the game. For me, Streep is overrated (it’s the only thing I agree with trump on i swear). I can’t stop staring at Nicole whenever she is onscreen, I find her so compelling. Even when she was playing against Skarsgard in big little lies, and usually it’s him I can’t take my eyes off.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I can’t stop staring at that bad lacefront in the suit photo.

    • Nana says:

      @Darla, did you see the clips posted when Larry King passed, of his interview with Debbie Reynolds’? Her Meryl Streep impersonation… If you’ve not come across it yet, look it up… you’ll love it.

  3. minx says:

    I’m just very..skeptical. We’ll see.

  4. vexa says:

    I really like Nicole – as an actress and a celeb – but she does seem totally wrong for this. For me, Debra Messing and Raul Esparza are the OBVIOUS choices. I continue to be baffled by what happened here…

  5. Jo says:

    Well… I was thinking “I wish a Cuban-American actor was playing Desi” and then I checked, I didnt know Bobby Cannavale is half Cuban! I think they’re going more for star power to get people to watch the film. That’s not necessarily finding the best actor to play the role.
    And I like Javier Bardem, but I’m tired of this continous white washing. It’s westernizing (Europeanizing?) every non-white figure you’re suppossed to be honoring. To me this seems lazy, like, “Meh, he speaks spanish, close enough”. Yeah, no. Not the same thing.
    They were pioneers, extremely complicated and talented. I truly hope this film works out.

    • Original Jenns says:

      Thank you on this! I’m so tired of people championing diversity and yet not getting it for this. Nicole Kidman is being judged on her acting/face movement, and that’s fair. People have different opinions. White washing Desi is not a “wait and see” issue.

    • LP says:

      God yes, I wish more coverage mentioned this! A white Spaniard does noooot equal a Cuban!!

  6. Mac says:

    I think Debra Messing and Ricky Martin would have been better choices.

  7. JanetDR says:

    Yikes is my reaction too Nicole.
    But I am appreciating @sa’s comment as well.

  8. Coolitude says:

    Javier Bardem is clearly a great actor if you watch him in film like no country for old men. Can get an Oscar

  9. Kate says:

    I like her attitude. I mean, we know she takes acting seriously as she is at the top of her profession, so we know she will approach the job with appropriate gravitas. But also, I don’t think she needs to be apologizing in advance or vowing to self-flagellate if people don’t like it. Movies are art and not everyone has to like them.

  10. Nikki* says:

    Javier Bardem seemed too old for the role; I was shocked to find out he’s only a year older than Bobby Cannavale (50 & 51). I never thought of Amy Adams, but when I read that, wow, I really could. There is a steel refinement or reserve in Nicole Kidman that I’ll find difficult to reconcile w/Lucy, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

    • Nana says:

      I keep thinking of Connie Britton or Judy Greer, rather than Messing or Adams… still taking on SA’s comment, will be interesting to see how it works out with Nicole.

  11. Julia K says:

    I remain on Team Isla Fisher. Talented and underrated.

  12. Jules says:

    Her face looks so stretched and crepey, I just want to slather it with lotion.

  13. Jane Doe says:

    When did Nicole Kidman turn into Glenn Close.

  14. Alice says:

    Debra Messing and Bobby Cannavale would be *chefs kiss*! Can we petition to have Bobby Cannavale cast in more things in general? That man is perfection.