Movie Actors Playing Real People Can Endure Backlash - Calling Marketing!

Take one of TV's most iconic and perhaps recognizable stars of all time. Could marketing be an issue when top actors attempt to recreate that person for a major motion picture movie?

Specifically, Nicole Kidman playing Lucille Ball.

An early promotional video official teaser, released October 19, for Amazon’s “Being the Ricardos,” starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, didn’t offer much video of Kidman’s Lucy Ricardo -- apart from one brief bit of classic TV: Ricardo mashing wine grapes with her feet.

The following official trailer, released November 10, offered much more video of Kidman’s portrayal. The movie was released in theaters December 10 and 11 days later on Amazon Prime Video.

Was Amazon being coy about all the potential word-of-mouth criticism that might arise from moviegoers' negative comments -- or something else? That is the suggestion in press accounts. Amazon representatives did not respond to inquiries by TV Watch by press time.



Our take? Well, the former was a "teaser" -- a typical marketing tool for movies, and, in fact, lots of consumer products. For sure, the anticipation of a Lucy Ricardo/Lucille Ball visual would be a big part of any promotional plan. Let me say it again: It was a teaser.

Social-media commentary always pursues big movie efforts when it comes to high-profile entertainment figures, say Queen’s Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Did any moviegoers have an issue with Rami Malek’s portrayal?

How about Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha Franklin in “Respect” earlier this year? Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in "A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood?" Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in “Ray”? Let’s add another Kidman effort, when she played Fox News Channel’s Gretchen Carlson in “Bombshell.”

It’s always an interpretation. That’s why they call it acting.

Yes, there are different degrees of popularity for entertainment figures. And Ricardo/Ball, was right up there. Press accounts also factor in other actors for the role; Cate Blanchett was previously attached to the film.

But major changes in big theatrical movies happen all the time. Why has this one perhaps stirred up so much comment?

One also might think all the behind-the-scenes drama could create its own promotional spin and interest for a targeted moviegoer. In this case, a somewhat older crowd. That said, at one point it seemed both Kidman and Bardem wanted out of the film.

Perhaps the movie industry and moviegoers would rather just see masked action heroes. They may be easier to identify.

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