When Mimi Leder was approached to direct a film about the extraordinary life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she knew she didn’t want to make a biopic. Instead, she tells EW, she saw the film as “the origin story of a modern-day superhero.”
Felicity Jones transforms into a young RBG alongside Armie Hammer as her longtime husband, Marty Ginsburg, in On the Basis of Sex, out Dec. 25. The film follows Bader Ginsburg’s first-ever case in which she and Marty, a tax lawyer, fought for a bachelor who was refused a Social Security benefit for in-home caretakers on the basis that he was a man. The landmark case impacted more than a hundred discriminatory laws.
“It’s a film about finding power on a personal level,” Leder explains. “I wanted to make a story about how change can happen.”
The biographical drama, which opened the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest in Hollywood on Thursday, is part of the festival’s showcase of female directors this year, alongside movies such as Destroyer and Mary, Queen of Scots. Leder, whose directing credits include Deep Impact and the HBO show The Leftovers, was one of the first women ever admitted to the AFI Conservatory.
Leder proudly posed with Jones and Hammer at the premiere of On the Basis of Sex, which Jones notes is “also a love story.” The Ginsburgs’ marriage is at the core of the film as Marty supports his wife through her Harvard education, her teaching post at Rutgers Law School, and her work with the American Civil Liberties Union. Within their household exists a utopia of equality, both parents sharing household duties and raising their children together.
“That’s what’s fascinating about Ruth. She fights for both men and women,” Jones says. “Equality for everyone ultimately creates a much better society. Stereotypical gender roles are limiting for everyone.”