"I think a lot of people truly don’t understand how ahead of their time they were," Amy Poehler said of TV legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the subjects of her new documentary feature, Lucy and Desi, which just premiered to strong reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
In a conversation at Deadline’s virtual Sundance Studio, Poehler opened up about both the process of getting the Lucy and Desi made and her goals for the doc, which was assembled with unfettered access to the estate and archives of the iconic couple. "We were lucky enough that the estate really opened up a whole new world for us and we were excited about hearing Lucy and Desi tell their story in their own words. There’s an incredible amount of information that’s public and there’s tons of ways in which to tell the story, but we really wanted to try to stay inside their relationship and – in many ways – their heads and hearts throughout it."
Lucy and Desi is Poehler’s third feature film behind the camera (following the Netflix films Wine Country in 2019 and last year’s Moxie), but this marks her first foray into documentary filmmaking. "We forget that they’re human – human people," Poehler said. "Every time, we got back to the humanness of it all; [these were] pioneers, outsiders who took big risks and who also had to maintain a relationship – and a very public one – at the same time."
Poehler feels that this is the right time to celebrate all that Lucy and Desi accomplished, noting that "they were true mavericks in a system that certainly wasn’t encouraging immigrants and people of color and women to run studios, and to be the bosses, and to be high status in the 1950s."
Ball and Arnaz have already been on viewers' minds lately due to Aaron Sorkin’s new feature film Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as the titular couple. Being the Ricardos was released on Amazon Prime just before this past Christmas, and Lucy and Desi will also be streaming on Amazon Prime, starting March 4.