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Aaron Sorkin Doesn’t Give A Sh*t If You Don’t Like His ‘Being The Ricardos’ Casting Choices

With one Oscar (out of four nominations) and a slew of Emmy Awards, one of the keys to Aaron Sorkin’s success is that he isn’t afraid to bend or break the rules, and he really, truly does not seem to give a sh*t about what other people think of him or his work. It’s a rare quality in the hyper-sensitive land of Hollywood, and something that could be considered a kind of superpower. So when sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Lacey Rose to discuss Being the Ricardos, his upcoming Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz biopic, Sorkin was ready to talk about the backlash surrounding his casting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as the movie’s stars.

When talk inevitably came around to his controversial casting choices, Sorkin made it clear that he was looking for people who could play the characters he had written—not do the best impersonations of the Lucy and Desi they knew from TV. As Sorkin explained:

We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them 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. 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, but moreover, I’ve found that you can really leverage low expectations. I learned that with The Social Network. People assumed it was going to be a romantic comedy, where, like, Paul Rudd “friends” Drew Barrymore and they fall in love. And I just thought, “Great, they’re not expecting what they’re about to see.”

While much of the conversation around Kidman’s casting is indeed related to whether the two look alike, and whether Kidman has the comedic chops to pull off playing such an expressive and iconic actress, the issue surrounding Bardem’s role is much more politically charged. Casting Bardem, who is Spanish, as Desi Arnaz, who is Cuban, is not sitting so well with some people. But again, Sorkin stands by his decision:

First of all, Amazon’s casting department had a Latina casting consultant [who was focused on all Latinx casting] on board. I found out, for instance, because there was an actor who I was considering who’s Brazilian, and I was told by the casting consultant that Brazilians aren’t considered [Hispanic] because they speak Portuguese. So, Javier is Spanish and the casting consultant was fine with it. But I don’t want to use the casting consultant as cover. I want to tell you my opinion on this and I stand by it, which is this: Spanish and Cuban aren’t actable, OK? They’re not actable. By the way, neither are straight and gay. Because I know there’s a small movement underway that only gay actors should play gay characters. Gay and straight aren’t actable. You could act being attracted to someone, but most nouns aren’t actable.

What it ultimately boiled down to for Sorkin was: Are we demeaning anyone by casting a Spanish actor in a Cuban role? And he feels comfortable that the answer to that is no—and Ball and Arnaz’s daughter agreed.

“We know when we’re being demeaning,” Sorkin said. “We know that blackface is demeaning because of its historical context, because you’re making ridiculous cartoon caricatures out of people. We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that makeup, doing silly Japanese speak, we know that’s demeaning. This is not, I felt. Having an actor who was born in Spain playing a character who was born in Cuba was not demeaning. And it wasn’t just the casting consultant who agreed, Lucy and Desi’s Cuban American daughter didn’t have a problem with it. So, I’m very comfortable with it.”

Being the Ricardos will be released on December 10, 2021.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)