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‘Nothing like a black face’: West Wing creator defends casting Spanish star as Cuban in new movie


‘Nothing Like a Black Face’: West Wing creator defends portrayal of the Spanish star as a Cuban in new film – saying the idea that only one person from his home country can be played is the ‘mother of all empty gestures’

  • Aaron Sorkin defends casting Javier Bardem in new film Being the Ricardos
  • The screenwriter said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to see the actors ‘returning the season’
  • Sorkin said Black Face is “humiliating” but the Spaniard playing the Cuban is not
  • Being the Ricardos is a biographical film about 1950s sitcom stars I Love Lucy










The West Wing creator got into a row over identity politics while defending his decision to cast a Spanish actor as a Cuban character in the new film Being the Ricardos.

Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind popular Hollywood films like The Social Network (2010) and Steve Jobs (2015), has criticized the trend of actors being limited to roles that reflect their true selves – for example, gay actors only playing gay characters.

“It’s sad and a little frightening to see members of the artistic community re-separating ourselves,” said Mr. Sorkin, 60, in an interview with Sunday Times Culture.

Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem, of Gran Canaria, Spain, will play Cuban-born Daisy Arnaz in the new film Meet the Ricardos — available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting Tuesday, December 21.

And Sorkin continued, “The Spaniards and the Cubans are inalienable. If I show you a scene and say, ‘It’s cold, you can’t feel your face. It’s doable.’ But if you say, ‘Be Cuban.’ It’s impractical.”

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote West Wing and the script for the new film Meet the Ricardos, fought the Culture Wars in an interview with Sunday Times Culture in defense of his decision to cast a Spanish actor as a Cuban character.

Javier Bardem, winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in No Country for Old Men, plays the Cuban TV icon in new movie Meet the Ricardos

Desi Arnaz fled Cuba to Miami after the Cuban Revolution of 1933, and went on to become a much-loved actor on the long-running 1950s American sitcom I Love Lucy.

Javier Bardem, of Gran Canaria, Spain (left) plays Cuban-born co-star Desi Arnaz (right) in the new film Meet the Ricardos, a biographical portrait of the turbulent romance between the main cast of the long-running American sitcom. I Love Lucy (1951-57)

Nicole Kidman stars alongside Javier Bardem in Meet the Ricardos, as Lucille Ball in the biopic about the romance that blossomed between the main cast of the iconic 1950s American sitcom.

Nicole Kidman stars alongside Javier Bardem in Meet the Ricardos, as Lucille Ball in the biopic about the romance that blossomed between the main cast of the iconic 1950s American sitcom.

Reversion: Despite their divorce, in which she described their marriage as

Throwback: Despite their divorce, in which she called their marriage a “nightmare,” Lucy and Desi remained friendly in public for the rest of his life; They were photographed while married

He said: Names are not strong. Gays and straights are inalienable. You can act like you’re attracted to someone, but you can’t act like gay or straight.

So this idea that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi? Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and bad idea.

Meet Ricardos, also starring Nicole Kidman, is a biographical drama about the relationship between the main cast from I Love Lucy – an American sitcom that aired from 1951 to 1957.

Sorkin disputed his decision to cast a Spanish actor as a Cuban with the “humiliating” practice of blackface, saying the latter makes “ridiculous caricatures of people”.

“Having a Spain-born actor playing a Cuban-born character was not humiliating,” he said.

The award-winning screenwriter continued: “We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece at Tiffany’s Breakfast and that makeup speaks silly Japanese, we know that’s insulting. I felt that this is not the case.

Photo of the real Daisy Arnaz, who was troubled by Lucille and ended in divorce, in 1954 while playing I Love Lucy

Photo of the real Daisy Arnaz, who was troubled by Lucille and ended in divorce, in 1954 while playing I Love Lucy

Javier Bardem has also drawn in the controversy, saying that it is unfair to be targeted when actors from English-speaking countries regularly play characters from other English-speaking countries without any opposition.

The 52-year-old from Gran Canaria told The Hollywood Reporter, “What are we going to do with Marlon Brando who plays Vito Corleone? What are we going to do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep? Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln? Why is this conversation with people with accents?”

And he continued: ‘What I mean, if we want to open the can of worms, let’s open it for everyone. The turn came to me, and the only thing I know for sure is that I will give it my all.

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