Amazon Studios began principal photography this week on Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” — a biopic about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — and Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat and Jake Lacy have joined the film’s cast.
They join Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, who are playing the “I Love Lucy” stars, as well as J.K Simmons and Nina Arianda as William Frawley and Vivian Vance, who played Fred and Ethel on the classic sitcom.
Hale will play “I Love Lucy” executive producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer, and Shawkat and Lacy will play the show’s longtime writing partners Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr.
Also joining “Being the Ricardos” and rounding out the cast are Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Nelson Franklin (“Veep”), John Rubinstein (“Family”), Linda Lavin (“The Good Wife”), Robert Pine (“CHiPs”) and Christopher Denham (“Billions”).
“Being the Ricardos” is written and directed by Sorkin and is set during one production week of “I Love Lucy,” starting with a table read up through a live audience taping, when Lucy and Desi face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage. On “I Love Lucy,” Ball and Arnaz portrayed America’s most famous TV couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. But in real life, their relationship was much more complex and tumultuous than the hilarious fictional characters they portrayed.
“‘Being the Ricardos’ is a drama about the people behind the making of television’s most famous comedy. I’m looking forward to working with Nicole, Javier, J.K., Nina and the rest of our great cast,” Sorkin said in a statement.
“My brother Desi and I signed on because this is a story of our folk’s real-life passionate, tempestuous and complicated relationship and not a recreation of ‘I Love Lucy’ — no one could do that,” executive producer Lucie Arnaz said in a statement. “We felt exploring that relationship could be an enlightening challenge. We asked Amazon for the best and we got it with every hire. Aaron Sorkin has not told this tale as a ‘cradle to grave’ biopic. Instead, he’s chosen to illuminate a snippet of time during an incredibly intense period of their show’s enduring success. The casting choices have all been inspired and Desi and I are so looking forward to seeing what this impressive group of actors make of Sorkin’s delicious script.”
“Being the Ricardos” will be Sorkin’s third film as a director, following the Oscar Best Picture nominee “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” His behind-the-scenes team on the biopic includes director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, production designer Jon Hutman, costume designer Susan Lyall, set decorator Ellen Brill, sound mixer Steven Morrow and editor Alan Baumgarten.
Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch are producing, and the film’s executive producers are Jenna Block, David Bloomfield of Escape Artists, Stuart Besser, Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lauren Lohman.
“Veep” and “Arrested Development” star Hale will next be seen in “Eat Wheaties” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.” Shawkat, another “Arrested Development” veteran, currently stars on the series “Search Party.” Lacy most recently starred in the series “Mrs. America” and “High Fidelity.”