Being the Ricardos: Recreate the ‘I Love Lucy’ Behind-the-Scenes & Sets

Curated by the IndieWire Crafts team, Craft Considerations is a platform for filmmakers to talk about recent work that we believe deserves an award. In partnership with Amazon Studios, for this edition we look at how costume designer Susan Lyall, production designer Jon Hutman, and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth re-imagine Lucille Ball’s private and behind-the-scenes life (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) in Writer-Director Aaron Sorkin’s New Movie “Being a Ricardian. ”

For Jon Hutman, the production designer who built the original “The West Wing” movie, the focus of his latest collaboration with Aaron Sorkin is familiar territory. “What people want to see in this movie is not what happened on stage; Everyone wants to know what happens behind the scenes.” Costume designer Susan Lyall recalls, “One of the first things Aaron said, ‘We don’t do’ I love Lucy. ‘ It’s the drama behind the comedy. ‘”

And while Lyall, Hutman, and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth have all done deep research and painstakingly worked on every detail to recreate the movie “I Love Lucy” – scrutinizing every frame of footage has involved and researched the groundbreaking multi-camera setup that Arnaz pioneered – the actual storytelling work comes from how they used their own craft to document the real-life marriage behind the TV couple America’s most popular.

In “Being the Ricardos,” the history of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s complicated relationship is told during an unusual week in which their careers were threatened by a headline claiming Ball was a communist. property, while their marriage was tested by various headlines accusing Arnaz of adultery. That this film takes place in the context of taking episode 37 of “I Love Lucy” to be read across the table to a live studio audience allows each of these three artisans to explore the duality of their personal lives. What Arnaz and Ball are like with their public and professional lives.

Filming “Being the Ricardos”

While the behind-the-scenes setting of “Being the Ricardos” places it firmly within the realm of Sorkin’s story, the writer-director is looking for a stark difference with the visual language he has used in the two films. his first directing efforts, “Molly’s Game” and “The Trial of Chicago 7.” To do this, he contacted the cinematographer with whom director David Fincher had filmed Sorkin’s “Social Network” script.

“Aaron [encouraged] I pushed him out of his comfort zone, pushed him in new directions, opened his eyes to everything,” says Cronenweth, who points to “Social Networks” as the reference to which Sorkin used several times in their first conversation about “Ricardos”. That means prioritizing different compositions and shifts in the cast, rather than relying on the long and talkative shots that have become synonymous with Sorkin’s television work. In the video above, the cinematographer analyzes this purposeful and varied coverage – during longer dialogue scenes, such as a cast table reading or Arnazs confrontation with its executives CBS – has opened up the layers of tension and subtleties that lie beneath that difference joke.

For the film’s flashback to the 1940s, when Lucille and Desi fell in love, Cronenweth returned to the hard light and photographed that era – including the work of his grandfather, Edward Cronenweth – to capture his feelings. How it felt on a Hollywood set in 1944, cinematographers called it “fashion noir”.

“Being the Ricardos” Costume Design

While researching Ball and Arnaz’s private lives, Lyall felt admiration for the way they defied convention. “They are an extraordinary couple who have accomplished extraordinary things in a single period of time.”

Despite the numerous images that exist of Arnaz and Ball from the early 1950s, the costume designer admits she had to use her imagination. “They are stars who are always photographed in a glamorous, fun, enviable lifestyle. And that’s not always the case.” Surely that’s not how the two “I Love Lucy” bosses show up to work every day, given the “infant” outfit Lucille wears when Lucy doesn’t provide for Lyall.

Armed with scraps gathered from their daughter Lucie Arnaz’s 1993 documentary “Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie,” Lyall dressed up the power couple as a coordinated “color team,” sets the two frontrunners apart from the usual wardrobes the other characters wear. She dressed Kidman in high-waisted trousers modeled after Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall – two women who epitomized feminine modernity in the early ’50s and were friends with Ball.

She then dressed Bardem in clothing that reflected how Arnaz embraced both the California lifestyle and his Cuban heritage, to create a look that was purposefully casual, stylish, and more confident than with CBS executives who tried to wriggle his arm. Lyall said: “I was told he likes to wear Cuban heels, and as a result Javier loves wearing them. “They really just changed his silhouette too much. Desi Arnaz is a very well dressed person, with a natural elegance. It’s hard to find a bad photo of him.”

Production Design of “Being the Ricardos”

While much of the work to accurately recreate the setting and plot behind “I Love Lucy” rests with Hutman and his team, their guiding force is the two stars’ complicated relationship. “Here are two people in love, desperately trying to hold on to their marriage,” said Hutman. “And the question I had to ask was how do I support that in my design.”

The focus of Hutman’s films is a theme of home, which, according to Sorkin’s version of events, manifests in the simple family life Ball aspires to compared to the theatrical life she built to save her marriage. As Hutman discusses in the video above, he deliberately lines up the success pitfalls that Arnaz and Ball amass at their workhouse with glimpses of the simple suburban life Ball wishes he was. enough to keep Arnaz at home.

The ballad by Lucille and Desi was one of the production designers turned into a story of color. On the set of Ricardos’ “I Love Lucy,” the colors were intentionally desaturated, while flashbacks of Ball and Arnaz falling in love were colorful flashbacks. “It’s important to feel the exact moment they fall in love,” explains Hutman. “Memories are so vivid; Today’s reality has sucked life out of her, and the struggle is to keep it. ”

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https://www.indiewire.com/craft-considerations/being-the-ricardos-i-love-lucy-behind-the-scenes-sets-1234686450/ Being the Ricardos: Recreate the ‘I Love Lucy’ Behind-the-Scenes & Sets

Aila Slisco

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