Actor Drawn to Inspiring Ruth Bader Ginsburg Story

It’s not often that an actor has the opportunity to portray one of the “most beloved and most iconic women in history.” Felicity Jones had that chance in the movie On the Basis of Sex and the honor was not lost on her.

“… You feel a little bit speechless when you first meet her, because you have so much respect for her integrity,” she said during a press conference recently in Beverly Hills. 

“And there aren’t many people around at the moment in positions of power who have their principles intact.  So you know, at first you kind of want to curtsy or bow…” Jones said.

She met the Supreme Court Justice at Ginsburg’s office in Washington, D.C.. She said Ginsburg was involved from the beginning and read every draft of the script. “We had her blessing going into the film, which I feel is the only way that you’d want to make something like this, such an intimate portrait.

On the Basis of Sex follows Ginsburg from her first day at Harvard Law School to fighting her first case – the landmark Moritz case. It argued that to deny a tax deduction to a man caring for his elderly mother because he was a man was gender discrimination. The film is as much about that case – which she argued alongside her husband Marty (Armie Hammer) – and Ginsburg’s early career as it as about her family, especially her marriage to Marty.

Armie Hammer as Marty Ginsburg, Cailee Spaeny as Jane Ginsburg, and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg star in Mimi Leder’s ON THE BASIS OF SEX, a Focus Features release.

It was their marriage that inspired Daniel Stiepleman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nephew, to write the script. Theirs was a truly great love story. Marty was a feminist before that word was used to describe men. In the film, he’s seen supporting her in every way, acknowledging that she’s the smartest person and the room, partnering in taking care of their kids and cooking dinner for the family.

Stiepleman first heard the story of how his aunt and uncle came to argue a case together at Marty’s funeral in 2010 when Stiepleman and his own wife were newly married.

“And my wife and I really looked to Ruth and Marty as our role models.  Like this is what a marriage is supposed to look like.  And how do we create that?  And how did you do that?” he said.

He knew he was in a unique position to write their story, but he also had a great responsibility.

She was his aunt, “but she’s 50 years older than I am, and so it’s not like we were best buddies hanging out all the time. When I was a kid, she was my aunt who every year at Thanksgiving would come with Hanukah gifts for the kids and every year from the ages of five to 12 she brought me a copy of the U.S. Constitution – just like every little boy dreams of!”

Talking to her about the film allowed him to get to know her in a new way.

And audiences gets to see Ginsburg, who just celebrated 25 years on the court while recovering from cancer surgery (she announced today that she is cancer free and will return to work in a couple of weeks), in a new way.

On the Basis of Sex is timeless and also timely. To see my review, click here.



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