Know the Cast: ‘Being the Ricardos’

Being the Ricardos Cast - Every Performer and Character in the 2021 Amazon Movie

The Being the Ricardos cast features Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and J. K. Simmons. This info article contains minor spoilers for Aaron Sorkin’s 2021 Amazon movie. Check out more streaming guides in Vague Visages’ Know the Cast section.

Being the Ricardos centers around a season 2 taping of I Love Lucy. The series’ star, Lucille Ball, strategizes after a media outlet accuses her of being a communist. Meanwhile, Lucille’s co-star and husband, Desi, uses his influence to manipulate the narrative, both on and off-set. The 131-minute Amazon movie includes flashbacks to inform viewers about the context for the protagonists’ relationship. Here’s every main player in Being the Ricardos.

Being the Ricardos Cast: Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball

Being the Ricardos Cast - Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball

Character Profile: The legendary star of I Love Lucy. She deals with communist accusations from the press during production for a season 2 episode. Lucille bonds with female colleagues while processing difficult truths about the closest men in her life.

Kidman’s Resume: Claire Lewicki in Days of Thunder (1990), Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Alice Harford in Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Grace Fraser in The Undoing (2020), Masha Dmitrichenko in Nine Perfect Strangers (2021)

Being the Ricardos Cast: Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz

Being the Ricardos Cast - Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz

Character Profile: Lucille’s Cuban-American husband and I Love Lucy co-star. He wields his professional power while looking after his wife. Desi displays typical behavioral traits of American men during the 1950s.

Bardem’s Resume: Ramón Sampedro in The Sea Inside (2004), Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men (2007), Juan Antonio in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Silva in Skyfall (2012), Stilgar in Dune (2021)

Being the Ricardos Cast: J. K. Simmons as William Frawley

Being the Ricardos Cast - J. K. Simmons as William Frawley

Character Profile: Lucille’s I Love Lucy co-star. He’s a 40-year vaudeville veteran who is playfully combative during rehearsals. William urges Lucille to remind that Desi that he’s a crucial component of I Love Lucy.

Simmons’ Resume: Dr. Emil Skoda in Law & Order (1994-2010), J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man (2002), Fletcher in Whiplash (2014), Bill in La La Land (2016), Nolan Grayson/Omni-Man in Invincible (2021-)

Being the Ricardos Cast: Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance

Being the Ricardos Cast - Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance

Character Profile: Lucille’s co-star and best friend. She is unnerved by the notion that her character Ethel isn’t pretty enough for her older husband. Vivian loses weight and challenges Lucille about her on-set motivations.

Ariana’s Resume: Carol in Midnight in Paris (2011), Patty Solis-Papagian in Goliath (2016-), Ida Kitaeva Laurel in Stan & Ollie (2018), Nadya Light in Richard Jewell (2019), Rebecca Cantu in Billions (2019)

Being the Ricardos Cast: Tony Hale as Jess Oppenheimer

Being the Ricardos Cast - Tony Hale as Jess Oppenheimer

Character Profile: I Love Lucy’s executive producer and head writer. He clashes with Desi about a season 2 pregnancy scene. Jess repeatedly uses the phrase “what you gotta understand.”

Hale’s Resume: Buster Bluth in Arrested Development (2003-19), Gary Walsh in Veep (2012-19), Petey Douglas in American Ultra (2015), Mr. Worth in Love, Simon (2018), Forky in Toy Story 4 (2019)

Being the Ricardos Cast: Alia Shawkat as Madelyn Pugh

Being the Ricardos Cast - Alia Shawkat as Madelyn Pugh

Character Profile: An I Love Lucy staff writer from the Midwest. She co-created the female protagonist character with Lucille. Madelyn believes that Lucy is “infantilized” via outdated dialogue.

Shawkat’s Resume: Maeby Fünke in Arrested Development (2003-19), Fiona in The Do List (2013), Dory Sief in Search Party (2016-), Lila in Transparent (2017-19), Naima in Duck Butter (2018)

Being the Ricardos Cast: Jake Lacy as Bob Carroll Jr.

Being the Ricardos Cast - Jake Lacy as Bob Carroll Jr.

Character Profile: An I Love Lucy staff writer. He always feels one step behind his colleague Madelyn. Bob loses confidence and suggests that he wrote certain jokes first.

Lacy’s Resume: Pete Miller in The Office (2012-13), Richard Semco in Carol (2015), Nick Beverly in I’m Dying Up Here (2017-19), Brett Wyden in Rampage (2018), Shane Patton in The White Lotus (2021)


The Being the Ricardos cast also includes Linda Lavin (Alice, The Good Wife), Ronny Cox (Deliverance, Beverly Hills Cop), John Rubinstein (Family, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Christine, The Avengers) and Nelson Franklin (Veep, Black-ish).

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.