After years of speculation, the moment has finally arrived: an official biographical feature about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz will be released this month. Being the Riccardos doesn’t just look at their famous TV-show I Love Lucy, it also takes us behind the scenes of the couple’s marriages woes. The film has their family’s seal of approval: it’s executive produced by their daughter Lucie and their son Desi Jr.
Being the Riccardos has been announced since 2015. At the time Cate Blanchett had been signed on to play Lucille Ball. However, it took until January 2021 for pre-production to begin. By then Cate had bowed out and was replaced by Nicole Kidman. Javier Bardem was hired to play Desi Arnaz. Aaron Sorkin (screenplay writer for A Few Good Men, The Social Network and Steve Jobs) wrote the screenplay and went on to direct the film.
Hiring Nicole Kidman proved to be controversial. Fans felt she was not funny enough to play the beloved comedic actress and that Debra Messing (Will &Grace) should have been cast. Lucille Ball’s daughter responded to the criticism, 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.’ After filming, she would go on to state: ‘Nicole did a spectacular job. Boy, what she did was astounding. She’s got such poise and class.’
Still, being executive producers did not mean that Lucie and Desi Jr. got their say in every aspect of the film. ‘I mean, there are certain scenes that I wished hadn’t been in the feature film. I couldn’t get my way and have them taken out, but they weren’t accurate. And I thought, ‘That shouldn’t be in there, because that never happened. That’s not true.’ And it’s not just theatrical license, it just wasn’t true. And the day they shot the scene, the sprinklers went off on the set and destroyed the whole set.’ Overall, Lucie says she thinks Sorkin is doing her parents justice. ‘I think he treated my mother and my father really well. I think they are accurate composites of these people.’
The movie will follow Lucille Ball Ball and Desi Arnaz–and their real-life relationship–throughout a week of filming I Love Lucy, per Deadline. Little else about the plot is known publicly, except that it will be complicated by a ‘crisis’ that jeopardizes both Ball and Arnaz’s careers and relationship. Sorkin also revealed that this ‘crisis’ focuses on three points of ‘friction’ between Ball and Arnaz that are historically true, but Sorkin condensed them into the timeline of the single week.
Their daughter Lucie: ‘It is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show and what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair.’
Being the Riccardos will hit selected theaters December 10, and be available to stream on Amazon Prime December 21.