Being the Ricardos’: Cast and Character Guide to Aaron Sorkin’s Take on the Iconic Hollywood Couple

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Now’s your chance to see Lucy and Desi in some classic Sorkin walk-and-talks

A guide to the cast and characters of Aaron Sorkin’s take on the famous Hollywood couple: “Being the Ricardos.”
BY EMILY BERNARD\sPUBLISHED 3 DAYS AGO
Lucy and Desi are going to do some classic Sorkin walk-and-talks now, so don’t miss it.

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“Lucy, I’m home!” is one of the many I Love Lucy references in Being the Ricardos, a biographical drama about one of Hollywood’s most powerful couples during a time when the public was paying close attention to their lives. Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed this movie about Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) as they work hard to make I Love Lucy, a popular comedy show. It could be bad for the show and everyone’s reputations if it turns out that Lucy is a Communist member. Despite Lucy’s claims that she is not a practising Communist, the press runs with the storey, which puts the show and her career at risk.

The film gives viewers a beautiful look into the writers’ room while capturing the palpable fear and anger that permeated every aspect of production. With Vivian Vance and J.K. Simmons in the cast, as well as uncertainty and Lucy’s strict temperament, there were a lot of tensions and questions about who was going to be loyal and who wasn’t.

Grab some popcorn, it’s time to take a closer look at who plays who in Being the Ricardos.

RELATED:Nicole Kidman Says She Had Second Thoughts About Playing Lucille Ball In ‘Being The Ricardos’

Lucille Ball/Lucy Ricardo (Nicole Kidman)

I Love Lucy was a long-running hit sitcom that Lucille Ball and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz starred in. Ball won an Emmy for her work on the show. In the show, she played Lucy Ricardo, who was always in trouble with her best friend and neighbour, Ethel. Ball was known for her physical comedy and how well she timed her comedic lines with her characters’ bodies. She was very involved in the production and writing of the show. She always thought about the audience’s intelligence and the motivations of the characters.

My Favorite Husband was a big hit for Jess Oppenheimer of CBS. He found her because of her performance on the show. Oppenheimer wanted her to star in her own TV show, I Love Lucy, with Richard Denning. She wanted her real husband Desi Arnaz to play her husband, because it would be both a great fit and a chance for them to see each other while Desi was on the road as a musician. Ball was known for being strict and hard-nosed, but if she wasn’t so dedicated and committed to her work, the series probably wouldn’t have been as successful as it was.

Nicole Kidman is an Oscar-winning actress for her performance in The Hours and is known for her work in Eyes Wide ShutMoulin Rouge!Lion, and Big Little Lies. She recently starred as Masha in the Hulu limited series Nine Perfect Strangers, and as Grace Fraser in HBO’s The Undoing with Hugh Grant. Next, she can be seen in Robert Eggers’ The NorthmanAquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and the series Roar and Expats.

Desi Arnaz/Ricky Ricardo (Javier Bardem)

In their hit show I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz and his real-life wife Ball played Ricky Ricardo and Lucy, their real-life wife, played Lucy. His character in the show was a musician who was always surprised by his wife’s elaborate schemes and efforts to become a Hollywood star. He was always surprised by her. Besides his comedic skills, Arnaz had a busy life as a musician, which meant he had to be away from his wife a lot. In spite of their imperfect marriage filled with high-stakes pressure and infidelity, Arnaz and Ball worked together to change TV with their production company Desilu Productions and also invented syndicated TV.

When Javier Bardem starred in No Country for Old Men, he won an Oscar for his performance. He is also known for his work in Mother! and Before Night Falls. He will play King Triton in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid. He also has roles in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, Dune: Part Two, and Bride of Frankenstein, which is based on a children’s book of the same name.

Fred Mertz and William Frawley (J.K. Simmons)

It won an Emmy for William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz, the friend and landlord of the Ricardos and the husband of Ethel in I Love Lucy. In My Three Sons, he played Bub, the father of the three boys. Frawley and Louise was a comedy duo that he and his wife, Edna Louise Bloedt, were in for more than a decade. Bye, Bye, Bonnie, She’s My Baby and Tell Her the Truth were some of the Broadway shows he starred in. He also starred in silent films for Paramount Studios. Being the Ricardos shows him as a stoic and jaded person behind the scenes of the show, as well as how much alcohol he drinks.

One of the busiest actors today is J.K. Simmons. Whiplash won him an Oscar for his haunting performance as Fletcher in 2014. He has also impressed us with his range in projects like Juno, Oz, Spider-Man, Palm Springs and BoJack Horseman, so we think he’s great. If you want to see or hear him now, you can see him playing J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Nolan Grayson in Invincible. Some of his upcoming projects are Little Brother, Batgirl, Lightyears, and My Only Sunshine, which is a comedy thriller with John Cusack.

Vivian Vance and Ethel Mertz are two people who work together (Nina Arianda)

Actress Vivian Vance started her career by pursuing stage work in the early 1930s, landing a role in Oscar Hammerstein’s Music in the Air in 1932. Following that show, she understudied for Ethel Merman in Anything Goes, and got her first big break starring alongside Ed Wynn in Hooray for What! when she replaced Kay Thompson. As with her other co-stars, she’s most known for her work in I Love Lucy, where she played Ethel, the wife of the grumpy Fred Mertz and Lucy’s best friend. She won an Emmy for her performance in the sensational sitcom and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2012. Despite some tension and disagreements between Vance and Ball off-screen, the two remained very close after the series ended. Vance went on to star in both of Ball’s following series The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. Frawley and Vance, however, never got along too well.

Nina Arianda, who plays Vivian Vance, is known for her recurring roles on Hannibal, Billions, and Goliath. She’s also appeared in Florence Foster Jenkins, Stan & Ollie, and Richard Jewell. She can next be heard as the voice of Fancy in the animated comedy The Adventures of Drunky, alongside Steve Coogan, Jeffrey Tambor, John Leguizamo, and Sam Rockwell.

Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale) (Tony Hale)

Jess Oppenheimer was first exposed to radio when she was a student at Stanford University. At KFRC, he spent as much time as he could in the station and started writing radio comedy scripts and putting them on the air. Some of them he would perform on the air himself. Astaire, Jack Benny, James Cagney, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland are just a few of the people he wrote for in Hollywood. On the radio show My Favorite Husband in 1948, CBS asked Oppenheimer to write the stories. The show starred Ball. Fortunately, he agreed to the job, and he made Ball’s character to fit her comedic skills. Following the show’s success, CBS and Oppenheimer worked together again to make the TV show I Love Lucy. He was the show’s creator, producer, head writer, and overall mastermind.

Actor Tony Hale won two Emmy Awards for his role as Gary Walsh on the popular HBO show Veep. He played Vice President Selina Meyer’s right-hand man. He also played Buster Bluth in Arrested Development, Archibald in Archibald’s Next Big Thing, and Forky in Toy Story 4. With Kristen Schaal, he’s in the Disney+ show The Mysterious Benedict Society, and he also plays the bad guy Tieran in Clifford the Big Red Dog. He’s going to star in Blind Psychosis and Hocus Pocus 2. Sarah Jessica Parker, Hannah Waddingham, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy are going to be in them.

Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat)

Comedy writer Madelyn Pugh remains one of the most influential people in television. She helped write and shape the character of Lucy Ricardo and was responsible for many of the sight gags and messy situations that Lucy got involved in. Pugh would even test the proposed stunts out herself with Ball’s talents in mind. It wasn’t commonplace for a woman to be in a writer’s room or any area of production, making Pugh’s accomplishments all the more impressive. She met Bob Carroll Jr. writing for My Favorite Husband, and the two worked as writing partners for 50 years. In the film, she’s portrayed as a confident and resilient writer who has a close working relationship with Lucille.

Actress Alia Shawkat is known for playing Maeby Fünke in the comedy series Arrested Development as well as Lila in Transparent. She currently stars in HBO Max’s dark comedy series Search Party, with its fifth and final season set to premiere on January 7.

Howard Wenke (Clark Gregg)

Actor Clark Gregg plays the bowtie-wearing CBS executive Howard Wenke, who, like everyone else who works with Lucille and Desi, is terrified of what the fate of I Love Lucy will be when Lucille is branded a Communist. Riddled with uncertainty and trepidation going into the upcoming week of production, he tells a nervous Lucille, “If you tape the show Friday night, it means you still have a show.” Gregg’s known for his role of Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as The West Wing and The New Adventures of Old Christine with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Being the Ricardos is available in theaters and to stream on Amazon Prime.

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