Lucille Ball's Daughter Was 'Devastated' When Cate Blanchett Backed Out of Prime Role in 'Being the Ricardos'

Being the Ricardos, the Aaron Sorkin-directed Amazon Prime movie starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, caused a buzz among Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz fans. Many grew anxious to see who would portray the celebrity couple and their depiction in the film. Another point of concern? The amount of involvement of their daughter, Lucie Arnaz.

Sorkin took some creative license to create drama. But one aspect of the project which disappointed Lucie Arnaz early on involved casting. Initially set to play Ball, Cate Blanchett backed out of the project before it ever started.

Cate Blanchett cast as Lucille Ball

Once Blanchett left the running to play Ball, Sorkin needed to find a new actor to play the comedy icon. Lucille ball’s daughter stayed involved in the conversations regarding Blanchett’s replacement. But she was not happy with the list of candidates that followed. “It was always like, ‘Who’s the flavor of the month? Who’s got the hot movie of the minute?’” Arnaz told The New York Times. Many suggestions simply didn’t bring the right attributes to the character.

One of the fan favorites discussed? Debra Messing, who played Ball’s most famous character Lucy Ricardo in a 2020 episode of the Will & Grace reboot. However, Sorkin didn’t want Messing. Being the Ricardos only features about three minutes of Ball playing her famous television character. Instead, the movie puts most of the focus on Ball’s personal life and how she blazed a trail for female actors and comedians to come.

Kidman was chosen because of her understanding of divorce and addiction

Kidman, best known for her work on Big Little LiesNine Perfect Strangers, and Moulin Rouge, became a contender for the part. As soon as she expressed the desire to play Ball onscreen, Arnaz grew interested in what Kidman could bring to the table. Arnaz saw the similarities between Ball’s personal life and Kidman’s, noting that the actor “had been married before — she understood divorce and trying to raise your children in the spotlight.” Arnaz also pointed out that Kidman dealt with a husband experiencing addiction, much like her own father.

Once Kidman started preparing for the role, she appreciated the complexities of Ball much more. She saw how while the comedy legend had dreams and ambitions that she couldn’t grasp, she still managed to find her own path through comedy.

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