Both Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem Feel Wrong in Aaron Sorkin’s Being The Ricardos Full Trailer


A full trailer for Being the Ricardos has arrived and is …still not convincing. Seeing more Nicole Kidman on the go as Lucille Ball doesn’t make me feel any better about casting, it’s just doubling down on the initial impression that she’s the wrong kind of actress for the role. It’s not that she doesn’t look or sound like Lucy that matters, it’s that she has the wrong physicality and isn’t expressive in the way she defined Lucy in front of the camera. Worse still, this trailer is making me think Javier Bardem is similarly wrong, because not even he hits the Desi Arnaz vibes. Desi, at least in front of the camera, had a mischief, a playfulness that increased his exasperation and frustration with his wife. Bardem can reach the latent sensuality of a performer, but the particular playfulness of Desi Arnaz? Don’t see it.

Maybe it’s time to admit that Aaron Sorkin isn’t good at casting. I feel you want to throw The west wing in the face, but television is a different beast from cinema, especially network television, especially network television before the digital revolution. Back then, Sorkin would have had to go through many layers of people to include the top of the network to get a cast approved for airing. It is not a lone wolf shooting in that environment. Nor is it in cinema, because despite what many directors would like us to think, cinema is a collaborative medium and no director is an island. But in a film, as a director, he has a much bigger voice and a lot less opposition to the realization of his ideas.

Of the two films Sorkin previously directed, Molly’s game Other The Chicago test 7, casting is a mixed bag. Molly’s game is well played, although Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain’s chemistry is far sexier than legal drama guarantees (and it’s nowhere to be found because that’s not the tone Sorkin was looking for), but Chicago it’s a mess. The casting is definitely bad. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale is the only casting piece in that film that is interesting and fruitful. And now with Ricardos, perhaps we should simply acknowledge that Sorkin is banking on Big Name Celebrity for the kind of casting that would lead to a more authentic portrayal.

Which he basically says in an interview with The Hollywood reporter. Speaking to Lacey Rose, Sorkin says of the casting: And you’ll choose from a small group of world-class actresses. It’s not for beginners, as Lucy says. It would have been a kind of tour de force. “

There is a lot of ground between “not a beginner” and “wrong for the part”. There are big-name actresses better suited to Lucille Ball, and again, it has nothing to do with looking like Lucy, which Sorkin keeps insisting as if that’s why people object, and not that Kidman both physically incapable of expressiveness which defined Lucia. Ricardos it was originally supposed to play Cate Blanchett, who is much closer to the kind of mobility that was Lucy’s trademark. As for Bardem, a Spaniard, who plays a Cuban icon, Sorkin says it’s okay because Amazon’s Latin casting consultant signed on because Bardem speaks Spanish and Cubans speak Spanish, so that’s okay, I guess? Maybe the point is not to put the burden on ONE PERSON who signs it, but to understand the broader cultural context of the lives and stories you are portraying?

But wait, it gets worse! Sorkin continues saying “Spanish and Cuban are not usable, ok? They are not accessible. By the way, neither of us is straight and gay. Because I know there’s a little movement going on that only gay actors should play gay characters. Gay and straight are not viable. You may pretend to be attracted to someone, but most names aren’t usable. “

At this point, anyone in the industry who doesn’t understand the casting debate simply doesn’t want to understand it. I want directors to just say, “I don’t give a fuck, I’m picking who I want” and stop trying to explain, because they sound more and more ridiculous. Of course, “nouns” are usable. Each character starts with a name. But the larger context is not that people think that “only gay actors should play gay actors”. It’s that gay actors should have the power to tell their own stories, to embody their experiences, in a way that was largely denied them until recently. People don’t question Javier Bardem’s casting because of a hyper-literal interpretation of the craft of acting. It’s because Desi Arnaz is a major Latinx figure in entertainment history, and perhaps the Latinx community would like to tell his story for themselves.

But the whole interview is filled with stuff like that. Aaron Sorkin has a big ear for dialogue, but he’s also a scolding who likes to berate the younger generation for not doing things the way HIS generation did, which is the best way (something that has common with Amy Poehler). His thoughts on the culture of cancellation – which does not exist – go in a similar direction, overcoming the real problem by the perceived inconvenience. I wish Aaron Sorkin would tell me one thing he was capable of and cannot do now due to the overrun of the culture, and I will wait here until my skeleton crumbles to dust because it didn’t.


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