With Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem already in negotiations to lead Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming drama about the stars of I Love Lucy, the project has now filled the other two important pieces of casting: Fred and Ethel. Kidman and Bardem are in talks to play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, respectively, in the Amazon Studios film called Being the Ricardos, which will chronicle one week of production on an episode of I Love Lucy.
Now THR reports that Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons is in talks to play William Frawley, the actor who played Fred Mertz on the sitcom, while Nina Arianda is in negotiations to play Ethel actress Vivian Vance.
Sorkin wrote and will direct the film, which takes place during one week of I Love Lucy filming and finds Ball and Arnez facing challenges on two fronts: one crisis that could end their careers, and another that could end their marriage. In the vein of Steve Jobs, this film uses a fictional storytelling device to encapsulate certain key aspects of these peoples’ lives, and by the end hopes to have offered a window into their lives and what made them unique.
Simmons, of course, won an Oscar for his work in Whiplash and is one of the most reliably magnificent actors working today, and both he and Arianda feel like perfect casting for these two roles. Arianda won a Tony Award for her work on Broadway’s Venus in Fur, and has recently appeared in TV shows like Billions and Goliath.
Sorkin made his directing debut with the extremely solid 2017 film Molly’s Game and is currently in the thick of the awards race with his Netflix courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, for which he very well could earn a Best Director Oscar nomination. Being the Ricardos will be his third feature film as a director, and I’m happy to see him wasting no time in putting it together.
The project was originally conceived a few years ago with Cate Blanchett poised to play Lucille Ball, but Sorkin decided to direct himself after Molly’s Game and Chicago 7. As a huge fan of his work, and someone who feels that Steve Jobs is underrated as heck, I can’t wait to see what he puts together for Being the Ricardos.
Filming is due to begin in April in Los Angeles.