Variety Streaming Room: Film FYC
Writer-director Aaron Sorkin is known for the wit and high-octane pace of his writing, as demonstrated in films like “The Social Network” and “Moneyball” and series like “The West Wing.” While…
Writer-director Aaron Sorkin is known for the wit and high-octane pace of his writing, as demonstrated in films like “The Social Network” and “Moneyball” and series like “The West Wing.” While discussing “Being the Ricardos,” his new film about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, he dubbed those qualities as being part of “Tangerine Theory.” Sorkin uses the idea to explain why he chose to set the screenplay within a five-day span of time.
“I like compressed periods of time, claustrophobic spaces,” he said at the Variety Streaming Room presented by Amazon Studios. “So everything that happens in this movie happened [in real life], but it didn’t all happen in one week. The three big events that I use that threaten the protagonists actually happened over the course of about two years. But I had them happen in the same week, which didn’t seem to pervert history too much. It’s just the idea that if you hold a tangerine in your hand, and you squeeze it as fast and as hard as you can, juice and pulp is going to fly everywhere. It’s my theory of drama.”
Nicole Kidman, who stars as Ball, didn’t know much about the actor’s personal life before reading the script, but she was immediately hooked. “What an extraordinary chance, as an actor, to get to play this woman who is a trailblazer and groundbreaking. And show the two different people that she actually was, because that’s how I see it, and how Aaron presented it to me.”
“I facetiously called [Sorkin] ‘maestro’ on set all of the time,” said J.K. Simmons, who plays William Frawley. “We’ve all known for many years now that he is the greatest screenwriter of his generation. And now, with his third feature film as a director, and the first one he intended to direct when he was writing it, we really see a filmmaker in every sense of the word. A guy who really has a complete understanding of every aspect of how to make a wonderful movie. And the four of us [Simmons, Kidman, Javier Bardem and Nina Arianda] and the other dozens of actors and crew were all very excited to be a part of it.”
Arianda, who plays Vivian Vance, expanded on what it’s like to work with Sorkin: “It’s a really scary and nice feeling when a director does trust you. Because there is no micromanagement, there is no hovering. So if you do something wrong, he’ll tell you. But at the same time, if you have a question, you can ask it. But the trust was there implicitly from the beginning for all of us.”
Javier Bardem, who plays Arnaz, concurred: “You can have directors that can give you tons of ideas, but it makes you feel very insecure [if] there’s something that is not working there. That has to do with the trust, the deep trust, that he has put on you. And it’s real. It was the case of, ‘Wow, we are here together. For better or worse, we’re here together. We really are one.’”