Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons will reportedly play William Frawley in Being the Ricardos, an upcoming movie in the works set during the filming of I Love Lucy. Fans of classic television may recognize Frawley's name as the actor who played Fred Mertz, a neighbor and friend of the Ricardos on the iconic sitcom. Deadline reports that Simmons has been tapped to play the late actor alongside Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
With production on the project moving along swimmingly, Deadline reports that J.K. Simmons has also been tapped to play Frawley. As for who might play Vivian Vance, the actress who played Fred's wife Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, another report from The Hollywood Reporter claims that Nina Arianda (Stan & Ollie) is in talks for the part. It's pretty well-documented that Frawley and Vance didn't get along very well behind the scenes, providing another potential source of drama for the upcoming movie.
Aaron Sorkin is writing and directing Being the Ricardos for Amazon Studios. The movie will focus on one particular week in the lives of Lucille and Desi while working on their show, delving into the drama behind the scenes rather than merely focusing on the TV show's on-screen comedy. It will not be a biopic in the traditional sense, as it won't be telling either of the pair's life stories, but rather center on a pivotal period of time in both of their lives.
Kidman and Bardem are also finalizing negotiations to portray Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the real-life married couple who played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. When their casting was first announced, the news brought about some controversy from fans who wanted to see Debra Messing as Lucy. This is based on Messing previously spoofing Lucy on Will & Grace in a very convincing fashion, making her an ideal candidate for a lot of people to play Ball in a movie.
"We are not doing a remake of I Love Lucy," Ball and Arnaz's daughter Lucie Arnaz said of the casting backlash, while approving Kidman in the role of Lucille Ball. "No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the 'Vitameatavegamin' routine, or the chocolate factory routine, or any of the silly things. It's the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Dezi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo. There will be humor in the film, but it is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show, what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair."
Simmons won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Whiplash. He is also known for playing Vern Schillinger on HBO's prison drama Oz, J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man trilogy, and Dr. Emil Skoda on Law & Order, among many other memorable roles. Those familiar with both Simmons and William Frawley can all agree that this is pretty perfect casting. This news comes to us from Deadline.