Nicole Kidman says it was her 'obsession to get it absolutely accurate' for upcoming Lucille Ball biopic

Writer/Director Aaron Sorkin and Actor Nicole Kidman from Amazon Studios' 'Being the Ricardos' attend the Deadline's The Contenders Film at DGA Theater Complex on November 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
(L-R) Aaron Sorkin, Nicole Kidman Photo credit Getty Images

As is often the case when a new biopic of a beloved star is announced, Nicole Kidman got a lot of flack for being chosen to play comedy legend Lucille Ball in the upcoming film, “Being the Ricardos.”

Fans always want a person for the role who looks and sounds exactly like the legend, forgetting that, one, that’s generally impossible; and two, that person might need to be a really good actor.

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Nicole Kidman is a really good actor, an Academy Award-winning actor no less. And the boo-birds might be in reverse flight now, as early reviews of the film have been glowing, specifically concerning Kidman’s performance.

And today, People clues us into how Kidman, 54, captures essence rather than a simple imitation.

In a Q&A following a screening of “Being the Ricardos” in L.A. on Saturday, Kidman delved into how obsessed she became with mimicking Ball’s physicality.

It seems Kidman spent hours watching old “I Love Lucy” episodes in order to recreate the hilarious and often demanding movements Ball made that had fans consistently howl through seven seasons of the TV classic.

"I studied them and learned them. It went into my body and my memory," Kidman said. "It was my obsession to get it absolutely accurate. It was [writer/director Aaron Sorkin's] obsession to have this human being portrayed -- what's behind the creation of Lucy Ricardo, and who is the woman behind this character?"

"I'd make it very clear to them,” Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter, “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."

Kidman also had to learn off-set Lucy, and how she carried herself around her husband, Desi Arnaz, specifically during the dissolution of the couple’s marriage and accusations of Communist sympathies -- the main period covered in the new biopic.

But it wasn’t all dour, dramatic intensity. Kidman had a ball (so to speak) while trying to recreate the famous grape-stomping scene -- one of the funniest scenes in sitcom history. She said she would’ve happily filmed for much longer because she was having so much fun.

Ironically, Lucille Ball’s actual experience with that scene, told to Dick Cavett in a recently resurfaced 1974 interview, was anything but fun.

The other actress in the scene was Italian performer Teresa Tirelli, who could not speak English. And something definitely got lost in the physical comedy translation.

"[Tirelli] was told that there would be a fight,” said Ball to Cavett, “and it was also explained to her that there were times when my legs had to come up in this huge vat of real grapes. I slipped, and when I slipped, I hit her, accidentally. And she took offense. So she hauled off and let me have it … it took all the wind out of me… She kept me down by the throat. And she was choking me, and I am really beating her to get her off. I was drowning in these grapes. She was killing me.”

As far as Sorkin, he never wavered in the face of internet troll complaints about the Kidman casting.

"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.”

“Being the Ricardos” premieres December 10 in theaters and December 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images