Skip to main content

Being The Ricardos' Aaron Sorkin Defends Nicole Kidman Casting After The Internet Thinks Debra Messing Should Have Landed Role Instead

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos
(Image credit: Amazon)

Being the Ricardos is playing all the right nodes to be a serious award-season contender. But not all the press surrounding the biopic has been positive. Casting Oscar winner Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball was met with some backlash as fans advocated for Will and Grace’s Debra Messing to portray the television icon. While the actress has remained silent, Being the Ricardos director Aaron Sorkin decided to speak up. The director came to Kidman’s defense about playing Ball.

Some moviegoers have made it clear about how they feel about Nicole Kidman even after the official trailer's release. The first on-set photos alone caused an online uproar. Again, Debra Messing’s name came up as fans recalled her homage to the comedy icon in the Will and Grace episode “We Love Lucy.” After months of backlash, Aaron Sorkin just wanted to let moviegoers how committed Kidman was to becoming Ball. The West Wing impresario revealed to The Hollywood Reporter he isn’t concerned about the audience’s expectations.

We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them that I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation of these people. Leading up to the first rehearsal, I’d write to them every day, ‘Just play the characters who are in the script.’ I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that. As far as audience anticipation, that’s something I’m just not worried about. I’m certain that when people see the movie, they’ll leave feeling that Nicole has made a very solid case for herself, but moreover, I’ve found that you can really leverage low expectations. I learned that with The Social Network. People assumed it was going to be a romantic comedy, where, like, Paul Rudd ‘Friends’ Drew Barrymore and they fall in love. And I just thought, ‘Great, they’re not expecting what they’re about to see.’

In short, audiences will be surprised when they see Nicole Kidman in the Amazon biopic. Being the true thespian she is, Kidman has always fully committed to her characters from Virginia Woolf in The Hours to Gretchen Wilson in Bombshell. So, devoted Lucy fans shouldn’t be too apprehensive about her portrayal, according to Aaron Sorkin.

After asking fans for a wait-and-see approach, Aaron Sorkin wasn’t done giving Nicole Kidman her props. According to Sorkin, Kidman did an excellent job transforming into Lucille Ball instead of Lucy Ricardo. He even gave props to Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda for channeling Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance. It appeared the film is in the right hands.

Of course, Lucille Ball fans will have their chance to give their final verdict when Being the Ricardos arrive on Prime Video on Dec. 21 after opening in limited theaters on Dec. 10.

Adreon Patterson

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).