Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, both in their 50s, are too old to play Lucille Ball in her early 40s and Desi Arnaz in his mid 30s in Aaron Sorkin‘s Being The Ricardos (Amazon, sometime in late December). I’m sorry but they are. Human biology and all that.
Kidman and Bardem can be de-aged with makeup and CG, of course, but will the audience buy it? Or will I be the only one carping and nitpicking while everyone else says “whatever”?
It’s one thing for an actress in her mid 50s to play 15 years younger, which is what Kidman will be doing when she portrays Ball in the early 1950s, when I Love Lucy was hitting its stride and she was in her early 40s. That’s presumably doable with makeup and careful lighting.
But a couple of days ago Sorkin mentioned to TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz that the film will include a scene of rehearsing for Too Many Girls, the 1940 George Abbott musical that Ball and Arnaz costarred in. (And which occasioned their first meeting, which led to their marriage later that year.) That will require the 52 year-old Bardem to play 30 years younger, as Arnaz was 22 or 23 when Girls was shot. Likewise Kidman will have to attempt to look 29 for this section of the film.
From EW summary of Sorkin-Mankiewicz interview: “Sorkin [reveals] that the film focuses on three points of ‘friction’ between Ball and Arnaz that really occurred but that Sorkin has condensed into the timeline of a single week.”
To the best of my knowledge there was one point of friction between Ball and Arnaz — Desi’s infidelity.
“Unregenerate Desilu Hound,” posted on 9.20.21: “As Lucy and Desi prepare over the course of a single week to shoot an episode that will go down in history as having some of the funniest and most memorable scenes to grace television, we will be enthralled to peek into why despite all of that passion and success their world-famous relationship could never be.”
“Cutting to the chase: Arnaz’s Cuban upbringing taught him that catting around outside the bonds of marriage was perfectly acceptable or at least workable.
“Excerpt from Chicago Tribune interview with their daughter Lucie Arnaz: “My father loved women, and Latin American countries have a whole different code of ethics. There’s the home with the wife, and the house with the mistress. Each is highly respected by the other.
“Unfortunately, my mother was from upstate New York, and my father couldn’t get her to go along with that concept.
“A 1955 Confidential article alleged that the Cuban-born actor told a friend, ‘What’s she so upset about? I don’t take out other broads. I just take out hookers.’ (Reported in an 8.13.20 Vanity Fair article, titled “Did Desi Really Love Lucy?“)
“Obviously Arnaz was an inconsiderate sexist dog. If a husband is determined to run around to his heart’s content, he at least needs to keep it on the down-low. Out of respect for his wife’s honor, I mean. Never push it in her face. Allow her to think that things might be okay.”