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Javier Bardem recalls 1st time seeing Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball: 'There was a silence'

Bardem said that a hush fell over the room when he and other crew members got their first look at Kidman as the iconic comedienne.
/ Source: TODAY

During this week's Sunday Sitdown, Javier Bardem is opening up about what it was like seeing Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball while filming "Being the Ricardos."

Bardem and Kidman star in the film as Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, respectively, and tell the story of the couple's lives on- and off-screen. Bardem said that seeing Kidman as the red-headed icon for the first time left him speechless.

"I was doing my test with wardrobe, the hair, the makeup, and then she came in ... and there was a silence," Bardem told Sunday TODAY’s Willie Geist. "They really nailed the look of Lucy Ricardo, no?"

"And I felt, 'Well, here is my wife. Hi. This is your husband. Whether you like it or not, this is your husband,'" Bardem continued, laughing.

The actor said that because of the film's schedule, he and Kidman essentially only knew each other as "Lucy and Desi."

"We didn't have much time to rehearse or be together or gather together before shooting," Bardem explained. "We didn't even have time to meet as Nicole and Javier. We were, like, right on Lucy and Desi."

Nicole Kidman and Desi Arnaz star as the iconic couple in "Being the Ricardos," in theaters next week.
Nicole Kidman and Desi Arnaz star as the iconic couple in "Being the Ricardos," in theaters next week. Alamy Stock Photo

Bardem said that because he grew up in Spain, he didn't realize how much of a phenomenon "I Love Lucy" was in the United States. Instead, he was interested in the role of Desi Arnaz because of the man's fierce personality.

"I was immediately drawn into him as a person," Bardem said. "He was a force of nature. He was a man with lots of wisdom, very smart, but mostly he was like a bull. He was unstoppable. Beyond being stubborn, he was a man with strong ideals."

Bardem said that he could also relate to Arnaz's struggle as an immigrant in the United States: Bardem was born and raised in Spain, while Arnaz and his family came to the United States after fleeing Cuba in 1933, when he was just a teenager.

"Even though it's different, back in the day, being a foreigner, it was even harder, I think," Bardem said. "But there's a lot of things of him that I was very attracted to, and some of them, yeah, will ring a bell for me in the sense of being a foreigner and knowing what that means."

"I was very honored to be able to portray him, because I felt very much in tune with what he represented for many reasons," Bardem continued.

"Being the Ricardos" hits theaters on Dec. 10. It will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 21.