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Nicole Kidman 'obsessed' over 'Being the Ricardos'

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Nicole Kidman 'obsessed' over 'Being the Ricardos'
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star in "Being the Ricardos" File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Nicole Kidman said she obsessed over recreating classic I Love Lucy scenes in the movie Being the Ricardos, in theaters Friday. Kidman plays Lucille Ball in the film.

"It was my obsession to get it absolutely accurate," Kidman, 54, said at a recent Q&A after a screening in Los Angeles.

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Being the Ricardos takes place over one week during the second season of I Love Lucy. Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed the film, consolidating several incidents from Ball and Desi Arnaz's (Javier Bardem) life.

Ball deals with allegations that she was in the Communist party. She also grows suspicious that Arnaz is having affairs.

Sorkin said those incidents did not overlap in real life. He set them during production on an episode in which Ball's character, Lucy Ricardo, tries to bring neighbors Fred and Ethel back together after a fight - an episode that actually was in Season 1.

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"I started off just watching the show, and watching sequences that Aaron had chosen - then literally studying them and learning them," Kidman said." I can get up and do the scene now. It went into my body and my memory."

The film includes the physical comedy when Fred and Ethel actors William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) share a single seat. Kidman also gets a chance to perform Ball's grape-stomping scene from a Season 5 episode "Lucy's Italian Movie."

"I wanted to do it over and over and over again," Kidman said. "We shot it in a morning. I'm like, 'Let me do another one.'"

Sorkin said Kidman would have kept filming the grape-stomping if he had not called "cut."

"Before I said good morning, she dove into a vat of grapes," Sorkin said.

Director Sorkin was less interested in exact recreations, Kidman said, adding that he guided her to embody the more complete Ball outside of her television persona.

"It was his obsession to have the human beings portrayed and what's behind the creation of Lucy Ricardo," Kidman said. "Who is the woman that created this character?"

Kidman said Ball's perseverance inspired her. Ball weathered the inquiries about her political affiliation, Arnaz's infidelities and network pressure to hide her pregnancy and kept I Love Lucy going.

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"I realized what she was doing in terms of trailblazing for so many women," Kidman said. "She would get up, brush herself off with Desi's help, and she would just move forward and tackle things."

Bardem, 52, said he was less obsessive about performing all of Arnaz's talents. Being the Ricardos also shows Arnaz perform as a singer.

"I was mildly obsessed with him, with his talent and with his skills as a comedian, as a person, as a producer, as a musician," Bardem said.

Bardem said he tried to capture the energy of Arnaz more than learn all of the skills at which Arnaz was an expert.

"The day came where they put a guitar in my hands and I'm like, 'What is this?'" Bardem joked.

Ball and Arnaz's daughter, Lucy Arnaz, is an executive producer of Being the Ricardos. Kidman said she was sensitive to portraying a woman's parents right in front of her.

"I, myself, needed her blessing," Kidman said. "I think it was terrifying having her sit behind the monitor."

The junior Arnaz ultimately approved of Kidman's portrayal, which included assuming Ball's maternal attitude over the real-life Arnaz.

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"She would start to talk to me, sometimes, when she was on the set, like I was her mother," Kidman said. "I'm very protective of her now."

Being the Ricardos will stream on Amazon Prime Video beginning Dec. 21.

Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem attend the premiere of 'Being the Ricardos' in LA

Cast members Javier Bardem (L) and Nicole Kidman attend the premiere of "Being the Ricardos" at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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