The Ricardos star Javier Bardem and Lucie Arnaz talk Desi Arnaz's Legacy

The Ricardos star Javier Bardem and Lucie Arnaz talk Desi Arnaz's Legacy ...

The film, directed by the stars of Lucille Ball and Nicole Kidman, is a portrait of the real-life people behind the beloved sitcom characters Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

As mentioned in, the Amazon film has been years in the making - producer Todd Black had been able to get a movie that was made for decades before in 2015, he had the option of acquiring the Arnaz children. From there, a writer, a director, and actors were determined. They took down Sorkin first, then secured Kidman. But the issue of Desi remained a complicated one several Latin American actors were offered the role but were unable to accept until Bardem

After a couple of days in advance of filming, Lucie Arnaz was invited to a tour of the venue where the two had the opportunity to meet in real life. Bardem, however, didnt have scenes scheduled at that time, so only met Lucie face to face, for the first time, over Zoom. Here, he sits down with THR to discuss her reaction to seeing her parents story told on the big screen, his respect for the opportunity to play such a iconic man and not deter

When and where did the two of you first have the chance to talk, and what did those early conversations look like?

JAVIER BARDEM I didnt want to disturb her, or ask her for anything, because I feel like it is sacred. So in a way I felt very shy and very intimidated to reach out to her, especially as I was reading the autobiography.

There was a moment in which I thought, I wish I could talk to her. But it took me a long time to contact her, because I felt very shy, as I am now. During that time, we had some conversations, and she shared with me some private recordings of Desi, which were extremely helpful. But most of all, to feel your support, Lucie, its a blessing.

LUCIE ARNAZ Thats very generous. I mean, it was a long process. We were working on the idea of this film six years ago, almost seven now. And the very first name that was brought up to play my father was Javier Bardem. I remember going, Oh my God, that made it up a whole notch

But I have to be completely honest, and I have told Javier this because in my mind, I was still thinking, Oh, well find somebody who really physically looks like my father's body type and face and he'll be Cuban.

Because of people's schedules, we didn't have Desi, and it's not an easy role to cast. My dad had to have a certain amount of maturity, a certain gravitas, if you will.

You have this effusiveness, this joy in your life, and that's what your dad had at his core. He loved the ocean, and music and cooking, and it was traumatic for me.

We havent seen you since I literally watched you and I said, You have the authority to be him. Because thats the kind of actor you are. Then I just let the chips fall where they may and watched it happen. I wish they had contacted me sooner. I may have shared more things. You asked when did we actually meet? I think we havent been hugged yet.

What was your reaction to Javier in the role, and the final film as a whole, as an audience member?

ARNAZ When I saw what he wanted to know, it didnt matter if he was born Spanish or not Cuban. None of it mattered to me. I saw the man, the humor, the charm, the sex appeal, the intuitiveness, and his ability to arbitrate, which was an amazing character.

What was the hardest thing to take on for you? What was the thing that was most unrelenting to you?

BARDEM Based on my experiences and his experiences, I felt that the music was in his body. But it's far from that, but now I can't hold it for longer than five minutes.

So that energy of the music in him, the charm, the security, combined with the music. Before I would do any take in the movie, I would dance. Even if I was doing the scene at the end with Nicole, when she goes with the handkerchief, and finds his infidelity, that is not a singing scene. And that was the challenge but also the gift that the beautiful Desi gave me for those days

ARNAZ In Cuba, you got that everywhere. There's this rhythm. There's congas. I grew up just playing the tables and cups at my house. Music was a huge part of our lives. He sang all the time; he sang in the kitchen; he sang while he drove, which was dangerous.

We needed to look at them and see what makes them tick, because we, as children, could never understand why they ended up apart, because they are our parents, but we don't want that to happen. But this film was almost as if you couldn't tie them down.

Javier, can you speak more to that capturing the essence of these people instead of doing imitations?

BARDEM Aaron always said, and I think you, Lucie, said to me as well: This is not a photograph, its a painting. Its a reflection of what these people meant and how much they meant to each other. Its a reflection of what they wanted to convey to each other. Because even at the end, we must understand that they love each other till they die. All due respect to their other relationships. Am I wrong?

ARNAZ Yes, youre absolutely right. Its like they landed on the moon together, so even when they couldnt figure out the relationship part well enough... they didnt disappear. When he passed, it was only two years, and she left, and I cant help but think someone like my father was there to bring her over.

BARDEM Every night, and I know Nicole did the same, when we were returning from the shoot, I would look at the sky, and select one, the brightest one. And Id sit down with a glass of water I dont drink alcohol or smoke and Id just tell him exactly how the day started and thank him for giving me the gift of allowing me to be him. Because I believe in those things.

Absolutely. ARNAZ, too.

BARDEM I was always asking for his love to inhabit him and to be a medium so he can tell his story. The last day of shooting, when I cried, was about really being loyal to what they represented, and not putting too much of ourselves into it.

ARNAZ For me, it made me cry, too. You did the work, because you weren't afraid to show warts and all, but you can play them. Thats what makes them real. Otherwise, its boring, theres no depth to anything. But you showed how well they work together, and the respect that he had for her, no matter what.

Your film came out a few months before a new documentary about your parents, Amy Poehler's Lucy and Desi.

ARNAZ There was never a chance to tell the in depth story of, Why are they the way they are? And oddly enough, Aaron said, I dont want to do a biopic, even though thats what he wanted to write. Now theres this marvelous documentary that wasnt even on the horizon when I was talking to Todd [Black, the producer].

BARDEM It looks fantastic.

ARNAZ It came out of the blue from Ron Howard's company and White Horse Pictures. They wanted permission to do an in-depth biopic and cradle-to-grave story about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I thought, I cant, because Im involved in this Amazon movie, and I have it in my contract. I cant get involved in any other biographical stories right now, but I mentioned it to the Amazon people at the time. Maybe we could

BARDEM I can't wait to see the documentary, which Ive read the most amazing reviews.

ARNAZ I've learned a lot more from myself, having done the film [Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie]. I've grown kids and grandchildren.

BARDEM I saw your documentary like 100 times. It's so beautiful and emotional, because there's lots of love there, and also lots of pain there.

ARNAZ Because I didn't want it to be a tribute, I wanted to walk a fine line down the middle, and really listen to the answers before filming. I thought it might have been good for another life, perhaps, because I prefer to get to the bottom of things.

What was your favorite moment to film?

BARDEM I saw so many people in the boat play, but for a moment I felt it. Cut, cut, cut, and are you okay, said the orchestra. I was playing the congas, and it wasnt bad. And it was a great experience for me personally.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You may also like: