Writer-director Aaron Sorkin has defended his decision to cast Javier Bardem as I Love Lucy star Desi Arnaz in the upcoming movie Being the Ricardos, saying there is nothing offensive about a Spanish actor playing a Cuban character.
Since it was announced earlier this year, the casting of Bardem has been criticized for its lack of “Latinx” authenticity, with activists complaining on social media that a Cuban actor should play the role of Arnaz. The backlash was part of a larger trend among left-wing activists to pressure Hollywood to embrace so-called “authentic” casting, which would prevent white actors from playing Latino roles and heterosexual actors from playing gay roles.
In the movie, which Amazon will release in December, Oscar-winner Javier Bardem plays Desi Arnaz opposite Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball. The movie follows the couple’s relationship during the making of the hit CBS sitcom I Love Lucy.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Sorkin defended the casting of Bardem when asked if he was sensitive to authentic casting.
“We know when we’re being demeaning. We know that Black face is demeaning because of its historical context because you’re making ridiculous cartoon caricatures out of people,” he replied. “We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that makeup doing silly Japanese speak, we know that’s demeaning. This is not, I felt.”
He continued: “Having an actor who was born in Spain playing a character who was born in Cuba was not demeaning. And it wasn’t just the casting consultant who agreed, Lucy and Desi’s Cuban American daughter didn’t have a problem with it. So, I’m very comfortable with it.”
Sorkin said the movie hired a casting consultant was Latina and approved of Bardem’s casting after rejecting a Brazilian actor.
“So, Javier is Spanish and the casting consultant was fine with it. But I don’t want to use the casting consultant as cover,” Sorkin told the Reporter.
“I want to tell you my opinion on this and I stand by it, which is this: Spanish and Cuban aren’t actable, okay? They’re not actable. By the way, neither are straight and gay. Because I know there’s a small movement underway that only gay actors should play gay characters. Gay and straight aren’t actable. You could act being attracted to someone, but most nouns aren’t actable.”
Sorkin, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for The Social Network, has smeared Trump supporters as racists and bigots and has even compared those who tolerate Trump supporters to “apologists for racists.”