Aaron Sorkin has made a career out of showing audiences what goes on behind the scenes of places like the White House, television news networks, and the creation of the world’s largest social media platform. With Being the Ricardos, his latest effort, the master screenwriter and budding director provides a short glance into the making of the beloved sitcom I Love Lucy and its principal players over the course of a single yet hectic week.
With A-listers like Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, the Being the Ricardos cast is one of those collections of actors that just keeps getting more and more interesting the farther you get down the list. In the event some of the faces and names don’t look familiar to you, we’ve put together a quick yet comprehensive rundown of the cast and where you’ve seen them before.
Nicole Kidman (Lucille Ball)
Taking on the role of TV legend Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos is Nicole Kidman, who has racked up an Oscar, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and an impressive five Golden Globes throughout her successful film and television career.
Over the years, Nicole Kidman has dazzled audiences with performances in everything from Moulin Rouge! to Big Little Lies and Cold Mountain to The Undoing, with dozens upon dozens of memorable appearances before and since. And with upcoming movies like The Northman and shows including Expats, expect to see a lot more of Kidman in the very near future.
Javier Bardem (Desi Arnaz)
Portraying Lucille Ball’s real-life husband and co-star Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos is Javier Bardem, an actor who has built up a tremendous resumé over the course of the past two decades, including an Oscar and Golden Globe for his terrifying performance in No Country For Old Men.
Although he was already a well-known name before portraying Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers’ 2007 neo-noir classic, Javier Bardem has become a massive star in the years following its release. With iconic performances in Skyfall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and most recently Dune, Bardem has become one of Hollywood’s best actors.
J.K. Simmons (William Frawley)
What would a movie centering on I Love Lucy be without a portrayal of one of the show’s main stars? Luckily we don’t have that problem as Being the Ricardos sees J.K, Simmons take on the role of William Frawley, the man behind Lucy and Ricky’s neighbor Fred Mertz.
Throughout his career, J.K. Simmons has shown up in both the DC and Marvel cinematic universes playing two of the most iconic comic book characters in the process with portrayals of James Gordon and J. Jonah Jameson (including in the recently released Spider-Man: No Way Home). Outside of the realm of superhero movies, Simmons has also appeared in riveting dramas like Whiplash, for which he won an Oscar and Golden Globe, as well as groundbreaking TV dramas like Oz.
Nina Arianda (Vivian Vance)
Taking on the role of Vivian Vance, who played Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, is Nina Arianda. Prior to joining the Being the Ricardos cast, the Tony Award-winning actress built up a nice collection of roles in film, television, and the stage.
Over the years, Nina Arianda has given commanding film performances in Midnight in Paris, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Richard Jewell, small-screen appearances on shows like Goliath, Billions, and Hannibal, and broadway shows that include Venus in Fur and Born Yesterday.
Tony Hale (Jess Oppenheimer)
Since so much of Being the Ricardos focuses on the behind-the-scenes drama of I Love Lucy, it only makes sense for some of the major players to play prominent roles in Being the Ricardos. Enter Tony Hale, who portrays the sitcom’s showrunner Jess Oppenheimer.
Whether it is with modern classic TV shows like Arrested Development or Veep, which earned him two Golden Globes, or in movies like The Informant! and Toy Story 4, Tony Hale has been just about everywhere the past couple of decades. And with the upcoming Hocus Pocus 2, it looks like it will be that way for quite some time.
John Rubinstein (Jess Oppenheimer)
Being the Ricardos features modern-day interviews with older versions of several of the key creatives behind I Love Lucy, including one with an older Jess Oppenheimer, played by John Rubinstein.
The son of influential pianist Arthur Rubinstein, John Rubinstein has bounced between acting, directing, and music composition throughout his more than 50-year career, including Broadway musicals like Pippin and Love Letters, film productions like 21 Grams and Red Dragon, and a list of shows that includes everything from soap operas to Young Sheldon.
Alia Shawkat (Madelyn Pugh)
Taking on the role of I Love Lucy writer Madelyn Pugh in Being the Ricardos is Alia Shawkat, who broke out as a promising young actor in the early 2000s with State of Grace and Arrested Development.
Over the years, Alia Shawkat has continued to find success in front of the camera with appearances in The Final Girls, 20th Century Women, and Blaze. Shawkat currently plays Dory Sief on the TBS/HBO Max original series Search Party.
Linda Lavin (Madelyn Pugh)
Taking on the role of an older Madelyn Pugh in Being the Ricardos is Tony Award and Golden Globe winner Linda Lavin, who brings with her decades of experience in film, television, and Broadway.
Probably best known for leading the successful TV series Alice from 1976 to 1985, Linda Lavin has appeared on shows like The Muppet Show, The Good Wife, Santa Clarita Diet, and most recently B Positive. Her film work includes The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Back-Up Plan, and The Intern. Lavin’s stage works includes A Family Affair, Broadway Bound, and The Lyons, to name only a few.
Jake Lacy (Bob Carroll Jr.)
Jake Lacy continues his impressive run with a portrayal of Bob Carroll Jr., one of the I Love Lucy writers at the heart of Being the Ricardos.
Over the course of the past decade, Jake Lacy has gone from a late addition to The Office cast to one of the most go-to comedic actors in film and television with roles in Obvious Child, Girls, Ode to Joy, and High Fidelity. Lacy also gave a great performance as the jerk Shane Patton on The White Lotus in 2021.
Ronny Cox (Bob Carroll Jr.)
Taking on the role of the older Bob Carroll Jr. in Being the Ricardos is Ronny Cox, who has worn many hats throughout his 50-year career.
Perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of Lieutenant Andrew Bogomil in Beverly Hills Cop, Ronny Cox has also appeared in movies like RoboCop, Deliverance, and Total Recall. His television work includes everything from Bonanza to Dexter and Star Trek: The Next Generation to Nashville.
Clark Gregg (Howard Wenke)
Rounding out the Being the Ricardos cast is Clark Gregg, who portrays CBS executive Howard Wenke.
Throughout his career, which goes back to the late 1980s, Clark Gregg has appeared in everything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to modern-day adaptations of Williams Shakespeare’s plays, and dozens of movies and shows in between.
And don’t forget you can see all these names and more when you watch Being the Ricardos streaming on Amazon Prime. Oh, and now’s the perfect time to check out the remaining 2021 movies before it’s too late.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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