No One Can Play Lucille Ball Except Lucille Ball

The surfeit of biopics in the world of film never ceases. Just when one thinks that producers have exhausted every possible major icon to sully with another actor’s portrayal, they go and find someone else’s reputation to tarnish. While most biopics are viewed as Oscar potential (e.g. Ali and Ray), there is also always the chance that it can go the Liz & Dick route.

Occasionally exuding sex appeal
Occasionally exuding sex appeal

This is precisely why dramatizing the story of Lucille Ball and her notoriously tempestuous marriage to the philandering Desi Arnaz is extremely ill-advised. Even with major details of the as of yet early stages of the project including Cate Blanchett in the role of Ball and Aaron Sorkin as screenwriter, there is nothing consoling about knowing the legendary comedienne will be rendered by another person. Her essence was so unique, so inimitable–even by an actress with as much range as Blanchett–that, short of Ball rising from the grave to play herself, it’s impossible to imagine anyone holding a candle.

The golden couple of TV
The golden couple of TV

And of course what makes it worse is that, like the Fellini family, it is Ball’s children who are participating in the “authorized” project. Can’t they leave well enough alone? Are they that strapped for cash? Do they not understand the delicacy of what they’re dealing with? The only biopic about Lucy and Desi that needs to be made already exists, and it’s called Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie. The Hollywood treatment isn’t going to work on someone who was Hollywood (by way of New York).

Overseeing their empire
Overseeing their empire

Plus, let us not forget how horribly a monument to Ball in the form of a statue went. If this is any indication, no one has a handle on capturing her persona. Moreover, whoever plays Desi is going to have zero chemistry with Blanchett, who offers the same level of frigidity as Nicole Kidman.