They all love Lucy. Celebs have admired Lucille Ball for decades, and several stars have paid tribute by dressing up as the TV icon.
Of course, Nicole Kidman is doing more than just dressing up for Being the Ricardos. The actress learned about both the I Love Lucy character, Lucy Ricardo, and Ball herself to bring the pioneer to life for the December 2021 Amazon Prime movie.
“So there was the I Love Lucy show, and I just thought, well, if I can create literally a carbon copy of her in the show,” Kidman told NPR the month of the movie’s release. “I look like her, I move like her, I sound like her, all of those things — and I really studied that for months, like watching it, rewinding, starting again, getting the timing, working on it, working on it, working on the sounds with my dialect coach. If that can be accurate, that then gives me the license to do Lucille Ball, as Aaron [Sorkin, director] said, with the sexuality, with messy hair, with all the things that do not make you go, oh, right, that looks exactly like her. There’s a feeling of her, but there’s a human being here.”
Being the Ricardos explores Ball’s relationship with husband Desi Arnaz (played by Javier Bardem). The pair were one of Hollywood’s first power couples, cocreating and costarring in I Love Lucy, which ran for 180 episodes from 1951 to 1957.
Kidman, however, wasn’t the first casting choice for many Ball fans. After the Australia native landed the role, many voiced their desire for Debra Messing to play the first female TV studio boss after her stunning recreation on NBC’s Will & Grace. An April 2020 episode of the sitcom’s revival put the Rhode Island native in the iconic “Vitameatavegamin” scene.
After the episode aired, Messing expressed how sacred Ball is to her and said she’d never even dressed as her on Halloween. She even previously turned down a biopic out of respect for the late icon.
“No, I have never dressed up as Lucille Ball my whole life,” she told Entertainment Weekly in April 2020. “I believe it’s because she is so precious to me that I never wanted to go near it, even just for fun for Halloween. Over the last 20 years I have gotten so many letters and emails from people saying, ‘When are you going to do the Lucy story? You have to do it!’ And I remember someone did reach out, years ago, to see if I would consider it. And I remember saying, right away, ‘No. I would never do it.”
The following October, after the Moulin Rouge star was reported to be in negotiations to play Ball, Messing assured fans campaigning for her involvement via Twitter, “I’m available.”
When some noted that she turned down a Lucille Ball movie more than 15 years prior, the Mysteries of Laura alum admitted to backtracking. “Ummmmmm, I changed my mind,” she tweeted in January 2021.