EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda have been tapped to play William Frawley and Vivian Vance in Amazon and Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos, the film about I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Sources add that Arianda’s deal has not yet closed.
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are in final negotiations to play Ball and Arnaz, with Sorkin writing and directing.
Simmons’ character, Frawley, played neighbor Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy. Vance played Fred’s wife and Lucy’s best friend, Ethel Mertz.
The film is set during one production week of I Love Lucy — Monday table read through Friday audience filming — when Lucy and Desi face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.
Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch will produce. Executive producers are Jenna Block, David Bloomfield of Escape Artists, Stuart Besser, Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Lauren Lohman.
Simmons continues to stay busy after winning best supporting actor for his role in Whiplash. He was most recently seen opposite Andy Samberg in the Hulu comedy Palm Springs and is set to reprise his role of Commissioner Gordon in Zack Snyder’ s Justice League, which bows in March on HBO Max. He also has the sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow War which also stars Chris Pratt. He is repped by Gersh.
Arianda won a Tony for her breakout performance in Venus in Fur and earned another nomination for Born Yesterday. She also played the love interest to Damien Lewis in Showtime’s Billions and co-starred opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Amazon drama Goliath. She also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s 2019 drama Richard Jewell. The actress is repped by ICM Partners and Schreck Rose.