Since it was revealed that Nicole Kidman would be playing TV icon Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming biopic, Being the Ricardos, fans of I Love Lucy have made it clear that they don’t exactly love that casting choice. Skepticism ran rampant when the first photos from the film — which premieres Dec. 10 in theaters and on Prime Video on Dec. 21 — surfaced in the press.
And now the first Being the Ricardos trailer notably keeps Kidman’s transformation hidden for the majority of its minute-and-a-half runtime. The Oscar-winning actress is primarily glimpsed in long shots or with her back facing the camera, only appearing in close-up once during a black-and-white recreation of a famous episode of the pioneering sitcom. (Watch the trailer above.)
That lone Kidman close-up also happens to be dialogue-free, but she does narrate the trailer, neatly summarizing Ball’s outsized importance to the TV industry when it was still in its relative infancy. “I am the biggest asset in the portfolio of the Colombia Broadcasting System,” Ball says, adding: “I get paid a fortune to do exactly what I love doing.”
She also introduces us to her husband, Desi Arnaz, the Cuban-American musician-turned-actor. Arnaz is played by Javier Bardem, who — unlike Kidman — does get repeated close-ups with dialogue. “They got their money’s worth,” Arnaz tells Ball at one point, emphasizing her value to both the studio and to him.
Sorkin’s script reportedly takes place over one week in the lives of Ball and Arnaz, depicting both the production of an I Love Lucy episode — most likely “Lucy’s Italian Movie,” which aired in 1956 — as well as an off-camera personal crisis that has the potential to upend their status as Hollywood’s reigning power couple. Surrounding Kidman and Bardem is an A-list supporting cast that includes Tony Hale, J.K. Simmons, Linda Lavin and Alia Shawkat.
The Being the Ricardos trailer may not have provided Twitter with a lot of evidence by which to judge Kidman’s performance, but that hasn’t stopped the opinions from rolling in anyway. And even those who are cautiously optimistic note the oddity of the largely Kidman-less trailer.
But there’s at least one person who can speak with authority about Kidman’s transformation: Ball and Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz. The 70-year-old performer recently took to Instagram to confirm that she’s seen an early version of Sorkin’s film and offers her full-throated approval. “Nicole Kidman became my mother’s soul,” Arnaz says. “She crawled into her head — I don’t know how you do that.”
In fact, Arnaz says she prefers that Kidman and Bardem don’t look exactly like her parents. “Thank god they didn’t do exact lookalikes — I couldn’t have taken it,” she says. “Everyone that Aaron Sorkin cast in this film… is perfectly cast.” Arnaz also advises that fans who want to see the “real” Ricardos should be on the lookout for Amy Poehler’s upcoming documentary about her parents, and produced by Ron Howard. “They’re making this amazingly deep and heartfelt full story of Lucy and Desi. But [Being the Ricardos] is gong to be something.”
Being the Ricardos premieres Dec. 10 in theaters and Dec. 21 on Prime Video