January 16, 2022

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Nicole Kidman on Lucille Ball in ‘Being the Ricardos’

Nicole Kidman on Lucille Ball in ‘Being the Ricardos’

There are worthwhile classes Nicole Kidman has discovered every time she performs a real-life determine: How that particular person was misapprehended by society on the time. How that period of historical past is extra like the current day than she realized. And, crucially, the best way to preserve her steadiness whereas traipsing barefoot by means of a vat of grapes.

Recounting her preparations to play Lucille Ball, the star of “I Love Lucy,” Kidman urged that her methodical efforts to study Ball’s enduring 1956 grape-stomping routine weren’t totally ample when it got here time to re-enact it on digicam.

“I had solely practiced on a ground,” Kidman mentioned with a mild earnestness. “The one factor I didn’t depend on was that there have been going to be actual grapes. They’re truly actually slippery, simply so .”

In “Being the Ricardos,” a comedy-drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, Kidman performs Ball in a narrative spanning every week at “I Love Lucy,” the place she and her husband Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) struggle to include Ball’s being pregnant into the collection, fend off accusations that Ball is a Communist and arrive at a fateful level of their marriage.

The film, which is in theaters and on Amazon Prime, consists of some recreations of well-known “I Love Lucy” scenes. However it’s in the end a narrative of discovery, for the TV star and for the lady enjoying her.

Kidman, 54, is an Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress, and she or he is as soon as once more a contender for year-end accolades for her efficiency in “Being the Ricardos.” However she tends to second-guess herself and mentioned she had scant confidence in her comedic skills.

Via her strategy to “Being the Ricardos,” Kidman has discovered extra connection than she anticipated to Ball, one other actress who was pigeonholed and underestimated in her day. Their life tales and skills might not totally overlap, however they each understood the need of humor to fulfilling their particular person targets.

As Kidman mentioned, “I’ve received to be humorous, and humorous’s onerous.”

On a go to to New York earlier this month, earlier than the Omicron surge, Kidman was sitting in a downstairs lounge at a boutique Soho lodge, her fingers ornamented with intricate rings as she sipped a ginger shot.

Kidman mentioned that “I Love Lucy” reruns have been a hazy background ingredient from her childhood, and that she leaned towards exhibits like “Bewitched’ and “The Brady Bunch.”

She might level to the occasional comedian efficiency on her résumé, in a darkish satire like “To Die For” or a household movie like “Paddington,” although she needed to be reminded that there was some bodily clowning in “Moulin Rouge,” too. (“There was, that’s proper!”) Even on a considerably sardonic collection like HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” Kidman mentioned, “It’s Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern who’re very humorous. I simply say to them, I’ll be your straight girl.”

And he or she has no illusions that she was probably the most logical candidate for the function of Ball and even the primary actress sought to play her.

At its inception a number of years in the past, “Being the Ricardos” was contemplated as a TV mini-series, in line with Lucie Arnaz, the actress and daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and an govt producer on the film.

Cate Blanchett was hooked up, however by the point Sorkin grew to become concerned and the mission was arrange at Amazon as a movie, the actress was now not obtainable. “It simply took too lengthy and we misplaced her,” Arnaz mentioned in an interview. “I used to be devastated.” (A press consultant for Blanchett declined to remark.)

As different stars have been contemplated, Arnaz mentioned, “None of them made me joyful. It was at all times like, who’s the flavour of the month? Who’s received the new film of the minute?”

However when Kidman emerged as a risk, Arnaz mentioned, she was intrigued. “I believed that’s good — we must always solely be Australian actresses for this,” she joked.

Kidman mentioned that Blanchett’s earlier involvement didn’t diminish her curiosity. In present enterprise, Kidman mentioned, “I really feel like there’s a sacred pact amongst us all — whoever will get one thing, that’s the place it was meant to land.”

She was conscious of a backlash on-line from followers who opposed her casting, a few of whom needed the function to go to the “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing. “I’m not on the web and I undoubtedly don’t Google myself,” Kidman mentioned. “However issues trickle by means of.”

(Arnaz mentioned Messing “simply desires to be that particular person so unhealthy,” however added, “We weren’t doing that. We weren’t attempting to be that particular person.” A press consultant for Messing declined to remark.)

She was not deeply versed in Ball’s life when she was first approached, however Kidman mentioned she might think about the liberty in portraying that slapstick queen: “The best way she strikes and falls, each a part of her physicality, you go, oh, I may be an absolute doofus enjoying her.”

Nonetheless, after signing onto “Being the Ricardos” with some gusto, Kidman mentioned she started to get chilly ft. Her reluctance, she mentioned, was partly concerning the tempo of Sorkin’s dialogue-dense screenplay and partly about making the film throughout the pandemic.

However on a basic stage, Kidman mentioned that comedies don’t come simply to her — not as a style and never as appearing alternatives. “I don’t get solid in them,” she mentioned. That could be the results of a profession spent in dramas, or, “it could be my character, too.”

Reflecting on her upbringing in Australia, Kidman mentioned, “I used to be the child that was not allowed to go on the seashore throughout the center of the day, as a result of I used to be so truthful and I used to be going to burn. So I might sit in a room and I wouldn’t watch TV — I’d learn.” A youth spent with Dostoyevsky, Flaubert and Tolstoy “doesn’t essentially make you a comic,” she mentioned.

If she’s going to tackle a task with any comedian qualities now, Kidman mentioned, “I should be pushed and cheer-leaded in that space.”

Sorkin was persuasive, Kidman mentioned, and she or he was buoyed by previous experiences touchdown a humorous line in stage performs right here and there. “It’s fairly wow while you say one thing and an entire theater laughs,” she mentioned. “I can perceive getting hooked on that.”

What the movie actually required, Kidman mentioned, was for her to play Lucille Ball (as depicted in Sorkin’s script) and never Lucy Ricardo. “Lucy’s a personality — that’s not Lucille,” she defined. “Lucille is extraordinary as a result of she was knocked down, received again up and simply doggedly stored at issues.”

The extra she mirrored on the screenplay and discovered about Ball’s life, Kidman mentioned, the extra she noticed a multifaceted one that gave her many feelings to play.

In Ball’s marriage to the philandering, alcoholic Arnaz, Kidman mentioned, “She beloved an individual who beloved her however couldn’t give her need she needed most.” Pointing to the fizzled movie profession that finally led Ball to “I Love Lucy,” she mentioned, “She was actually humorous however she needed to be a film star.”

Kidman stopped wanting drawing direct parallels between Ball’s life and her personal, however Lucie Arnaz wholeheartedly embraced the comparisons.

Arnaz mentioned that like her mom, Kidman “had been married earlier than — she understood divorce and attempting to lift your youngsters within the highlight. She understood a husband who had an dependancy drawback.” (Kidman’s husband, the singer Keith City, has been handled prior to now for drug and alcohol abuse.)

Kidman threw herself into the bodily preparations for the function and labored carefully with a dialect coach, Thom Jones, to develop the voices she would use for Lucille Ball and Lucy Ricardo.

As Jones defined, “Lucy is Lucille excessive. When Lucille performed Lucy, she did a broad, exaggerated model of herself and pitched her voice increased.”

Ball’s pure talking voice was deeper and huskier from years of smoking, although Kidman was not essentially striving for good mimicry. “We needed her to seize on the essence of Lucille and get that throughout,” Jones mentioned. “When you’re doing an impersonation, you’re going to be too conscious of your outdoors and never be capable of fill your inside as an actor.”

Kidman ran strains together with her mom, a lifelong “Lucy” fan, although it’s not clear how useful this was to her total course of. “She’d say, ‘You bought this phrase incorrect,’ and I’d go, ‘Mother, simply let me get to the top of the sentence earlier than you right me.’ Rule No. 1, don’t study strains together with your mother.”

She additionally studied private audio recordings that Arnaz shared together with her, and labored with a motion coach whereas studying to duplicate a number of “I Love Lucy” routines, although solely a handful seem within the movie.

Kidman has already acquired nominations for a number of honors, together with a Golden Globe and a Critics Selection Award, for “Being the Ricardos,” however her efficiency stays an occasional supply of insecurity for her.

She appeared shocked to be instructed about an October teaser trailer for the movie that solely fleetingly confirmed her face in a span of about 75 seconds, and that prompted some viewers to ask why Amazon seemed to be hiding Kidman.

Requested if she was conscious of the teaser or the technique behind it, Kidman mentioned, “I don’t know the best way to reply that, ? I don’t deal with the promotional a part of it. Possibly they have been simply afraid of exhibiting me.”

She drew a breath earlier than including, “Bummer.”

No matter different notices she receives for “Being the Ricardos,” Kidman will at all times have the expertise of standing on a facsimile of the “I Love Lucy” set, performing Ball’s materials from the present and listening to the laughter of scores of extras employed to play the present’s studio viewers.

Kidman supplied a single phrase to explain how she felt in that second: “Implausible.” Then, as if to reveal among the expertise she’d picked up on the movie, she waited a beat and mentioned: “They have been made to snigger, by the best way.”

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