Being the Ricardos: Javier Bardem defends decision to cast him as Desi Arnaz in Sorkin film

‘We should all start not allowing anybody to play Hamlet unless they were born in Denmark’

Maanya Sachdeva
Thursday 16 December 2021 09:26
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Being The Ricardos

Javier Bardem has defended the decision to cast him as Lucille Ball’s Cuban husband in the new Aaron Sorkin film Being the Ricardos.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Wednesday (15 December), the 52-year-old Spanish actor addressed online criticism that a Latin American actor should have gotten Desi Arnaz’s role instead of him.

In his initial response, the Oscar winner said: “I’m an actor, and that’s what I do for a living: [I] try to be people that I’m not.”

Bardem also wondered whether this kind of casting criticism was only directed towards actors whose second language was English.

Highlighting Marlon Brando’s iconic role as Italian mafia boss Vito Corleone and Meryl Streep’s portrayal of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Bardem asked: “Why does this conversation happen with people with accents?”

The No Country For Old Men actor also cited the example of Ridley Scott’s recent historical drama The Last Duel, set in medieval France, and starring actors Jodie Comer, Adam Driver, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.

He said: “Where is that conversation with English-speaking people doing things like The Last Duel, where they were supposed to be French people in the Middle Ages? That’s fine. But me, with my Spanish accent, being Cuban?”

“if we want to open the can of worms, let’s open it for everyone,” the actor continued.

Starring Nicole Kidman and Bardem as on-screen and off-screen couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Being the Ricardos chronicles the tumultuous relationship of the stars of hit fifties sitcom I Love Lucy.

It follows the actors during one week of filming I Love Lucy — from a Monday table read to a Friday shoot — while the couple navigates crises and challenges that threaten their relationship and careers.

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Presumably still pondering the “famous question” of whether actors should be cast on the basis of race or ethnicity, Bardem circled back to it during the interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

He said: “We should all start not allowing anybody to play Hamlet unless they were born in Denmark.”

Not Bardem’s final word on the subject, the actor emailed the publication a follow-up response to the casting criticism over Sorkin’s film.

Bardem told the publication: “I do recognise that there are many underrepresented voices and stories that need to be told, and we should collectively do better to provide access and opportunities for more American Latino stories and storytellers.”

After a limited theatrical release on 10 December, Being the Ricardos will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video on 21 December 2021.

In her three-star review, The Independent film critic Clarisse Loughrey writes that Being the Ricardos “is about the inner mechanics of comedy writing” instead of functioning as a biopic.

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