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Nicole Kidman addresses doubts, criticisms about being cast as Lucille Ball

In “Being the Ricardos,” Nicole Kidman channels the legendary “I Love Lucy” star, but she tells TODAY she wasn’t aiming for an “imitation.”

Nicole Kidman is taking on the role of iconic American funnywoman Lucille Ball in Amazon Studios’ “Being the Ricardos.” The "I Love Lucy" star was just as known for her curly red locks, crimson lipstick and beaming smile as she was for sidesplitting comedy.

And because the comedian’s looks were so singular, Kidman has found herself the subject of some doubt ever since her casting news came out, with many wondering if the Australian Oscar winner really looks enough like the Lucy everyone loved so much.

It’s a topic the actor tackled when she and her “Being the Ricardos” co-star, Javier Bardem, visited TODAY to talk about the project.

The 54-year-old explained that she tried not to let that sort of early criticism bother her.

“But (I’m) a human being, so there’s times when you go, ‘Gosh, maybe I’m not the right person for this,’” she confessed.

 

Lucille Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, circa 1950s.Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

However, it only took one voice to counteract those concerns — that of writer and director of the project, Aaron Sorkin.

“That’s where having somebody like Aaron, who really said at the beginning, he was like, ‘I’m not wanting a perfect rendition or imitation of Lucy. No, no, no, no, no.’”

He wanted her to channel the spirit of the character, which she found wasn’t so difficult to do given how much she connected with the Hollywood legend.

“A lot of it I can relate to, and I go, ‘Ah, OK, I’ve been in that situation. I know that,’” she explained. “So I think those things were relatable.” 

 

Kidman in a scene with Javier Bardem, who plays Desi Arnaz in the film.Amazon Studios

One part particularly resonated with her.

“There’s a scene in it where they say, ‘You’re 39, and that’s it. It’s kind of over for you,’” Kidman recalled. “I know that feeling. I sort of had that. And it was like, OK. Where television suddenly opened a door for her, it opened a door for me. Around the same age, I was like, ‘Gosh, that’s kind of ... I know that feeling really deeply.’”

Besides, Kidman already has the endorsement of someone who knows Ball best — her and Desi Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz.

When public pushback about the casting news started back in January, Arnaz took to Facebook to defend Kidman.

“Here’s the deal,” she said at the time. “You should understand, we are not doing a remake of ‘I Love Lucy.’ No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo. ... It’s the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Desi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo. There will be humor in the film, but it is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show, what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair.”

And that’s what audiences can expect to see when they watch Kidman and Bardem in the film.

“Being the Ricardos” is currently playing in select theaters. It lands on Amazon Prime Dec. 21.

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