Nicole Kidman may be playing one of television’s most beloved comedians, but she’s warned moviegoers not to expect loads of laughs in the film she’s making about Lucille Ball.
Nicole plays the ditzy comedy queen in Being the Ricardos, which centers around a week in the life of Lucille and her husband Desi Arnaz, who played a couple called Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in the hit TV series I Love Lucy.
The movie tackles some serious themes explains the Australian Oscar winner. “It’s about Lucy and Desi, and their relationship and their marriage. It’s very deep, actually.”
Being The Ricardos is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing fame, and Nicole, 54, says she’s fascinated by the way he’s tackled the story of the hugely successful star, who was one of the most powerful women in television in the 1950s and ’60s. “I’m very excited for people to see what Aaron found out about her, and the way he’s interpreted Desi and Lucy. I didn’t know any of this.”
By this, she means the couple’s extremely tumultuous relationship. The pair divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage that was fraught with furious rows and infidelities on both sides. Not much has been given away about the plot of the movie, other than it’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of an episode of I Love Lucy, involving a crisis that threatens their marriage and careers.
It’s not known whether the film will draw on shocking material included in a recently released book, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz: They Weren’t Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince.
Showbiz biographer Darwin, whose previous subjects include Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, and Judy Garland, first met the couple in the ’50s, when they attended an event at his university. He says they weren’t anything like their TV alter egos – instead of being America’s sweethearts, they were snide and rude and bickered constantly. Lucille called Cuban Desi a racial slur and accused him of having sex with two prostitutes the night before.
“He didn’t deny that, but claimed, ‘It doesn’t mean a thing, my fooling around with some hookers,’” recalls Darwin, 83.
He and co-writer and publisher Danforth have been compiling information on the couple for many years, and some of it may surprise fans of the lovable redhead and her suave former husband.
“Lucille was a gangster’s moll and a nude model, who used the casting couch to claw her way to Hollywood stardom,” claims Darwin. “And her seemingly perfect marriage to Desi was a sham, filled with affairs, animosity and brutal arguments. The world thought Lucille Ball was a zany, loving, and supportive housewife, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Lucille, who was born in 1911, longed to perform from an early age and attended drama school in New York as a teenager, but was overshadowed by classmate Bette Davis.
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