Growing up as the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, TV’s golden couple, was not always a walk in the park for Lucie Arnaz. Her parents weren’t exactly like their I Love Lucy counterparts. In fact, they weren’t around much when she was a child. As a result of being around celebrities, Arnaz was very shy because she was intimidated by everyone’s talent.
Eventually, she came into her own and found her passions, but she didn’t realize she’d have another part-time job, defending her mother’s legacy. After Ball died in 1989, Arnaz felt like she had to “take care of the world,” mourning the TV icon. Since then, she’s safeguarded the truth about her parent’s lives, especially when eager filmmakers come knocking on the door thirsty for intel for their biopics.
Lucie Arnaz was happy about Cate Blanchett playing Lucille Ball
In 2015, Aaron Sorkin announced he was working on a Lucille Ball biopic, in which Cate Blanchett was originally slated to star. Two years later, in 2017, Amazon Studios picked it up, and Arnaz and her brother Desi Arnaz Jr. became producers. The film was initially supposed to follow Ball and Aranaz’s marriage.
Arnaz told Good Morning America that she thought Blanchett was a great choice because “she totally gets where my mother was coming from, and she’s going to be magnificent in this.” At the time, Arnaz was looking forward to a fair biopic that painted her parents in the right way.
In January, however, Blanchett was replaced by Nicole Kidman, and fans weren’t happy. They wanted Debra Messing, who bears a striking resemblance to Ball. Instead of agreeing with fans, Arnaz was happy with the replacement and defended Kidman’s casting. According to IndieWire, she posted a video on Facebook to reassure fans that Kidman is perfect for the role.
“It’s a done deal, but the contracts aren’t actually signed, which is why I haven’t said anything publicly about it, but I felt I should at least try to calm the waters here,” Arnaz said. “There seems to be a lot of discussion about Nicole Kidman [and people saying] it should be Debra Messing…I don’t know, but 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.”
In the process, Sorkin also changed the film’s storyline. Being the Ricardos will take place over one week during the production of I Love Lucy.
Lucie Arnaz is happy with Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Lucille Ball
Since Arnaz attended some of the filmings for Being the Ricardos, she saw firsthand how her parents were portrayed. Now, actually seeing Kidman star as her mother has reaffirmed her sentiments of Kidman’s casting. She told Palm Springs Life that Kidman did a “spectacular job.”
“The two days that I watched, though, were both little flashbacks, so she was playing Lucy in the late ’30s and mid-’40s. She wasn’t Lucy of Lucy Ricardo fame yet, so it was a trifle different,” Arnaz said. “And I know she meant it to be, so it could feel different. But boy, what she did was astounding. She’s got such poise and class.”
Arnaz was happy that Kidman didn’t try to mimic her mother. She made the role her own. “There are no look-alikes. I mean, nobody was cast because they look exactly like somebody. They were cast because they’re spectacular performers, actors, and they can capture the basic essence of what has been written in this script. And Aaron was adamant about that, and thank God. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.”
There is one thing about Being the Ricardos that Arnaz has trouble with, though, and it has nothing to do with the actors.
Lucie Arnaz wishes certain scenes hadn’t been put in
Arnaz might have agreed with both of Sorkin’s casting choices, but she’s changing her stance on the biopics premiss. Initially, she was relieved that the film portrayed her parents truthfully, but she started feeling skeptical once Sorkin changed the plot. She revealed that Sorkin put snippets of real moments together.
“It takes place, primarily, during rehearsals for one of the shows,” she revealed. “There are a few scenes where they’re at their house in Chatsworth, before working, after working. There are two or three short flashback scenes to her life before I Love Lucy, when she worked on the radio show when she was trying to convince the network to hire dad.
“But stuff happens that week that didn’t happen altogether the way Aaron has written it. He’s taking some theatrical license and sort of cramming a couple of true events that did happen, they just didn’t happen at the same time. But you do learn a lot about what it was like back then. His dialogue is always incredible. And I think he treated my mother and my father really well. I think they are accurate composites of these people. And what I’ve seen of it… I haven’t seen any of the rushes, but I was on the set for just two days. What I saw was extraordinarily classy and first rate. The people that he has cast are just really great performers.”
Arnaz is still happy with the final product, just not the jumbled timeline. It’s good to know the events in the film don’t reflect real-life, though. The biggest truth is that Arnaz will always defend her parents.
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