Ruth Bader Ginsburg or “The Notorious RBG“ as one like to refer to her these days is hands down one of the most formidable women in American History. She does not suffer fools glad, does not mix her words and shoots straight from the hip…literally.
At a recent junket for On the Basis of Sex with my favorite Mommy Bloggers, the stars of the film, Felicity Jones (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Armie Hammer (Martin Ginsburg), Cailee Spaeny (Jane Ginsburg) and Justice Ginsburg’s nephew/Screenwriter – Daniel Stiepleman we discussed meeting this legal icon, Armie Hammer’s culinary skills and what it was like being related to her and translating a relative’s love story to the movie screen .
CARLA: So, I know that Marty in the film exudes major culinary skills. [LAUGHTER] I was wondering if either one of you are as… gifted in the kitchen.
ARMIE HAMMER: I’d like to think so. I do like to cook and do a lot of the cooking in our house. So… it’s great to do a role where I just got to chop for hours and hours a day and everybody else would clean up the kitchen for me. It was kind of a dream role.
FELICITY JONES: Ah, oh, I’m terrible. [LAUGHTER] I’m absolutely hopeless. But,I enjoy eating other people’s cooking.
PRESS: With Ruth Bader Ginsburg, being your aunt, how did your relationship affect how the movie was written?
DANIEL STIEPLEMAN: Ah, that’s a great question. You know for some people Ruth is like a really divisive character. And for some people she is this super hero. So for me, I just wanted her to be Aunt Ruth. I first heard the story at Uncle Martin’s funeral, someone gave a eulogy in which he mentioned briefly, the this was only case Ruth and Marty ever argued together. For me, it was knowing who they were together became the heart of how I would tell the story. Recognizing I was sort of in this privileged position where I had them as role models and realizing that it was something I could share with others. When I was a kid, she was my aunt who every year at Thanksgiving would come with Hanukkah gifts for the kids and every year from the ages of 5-12, she brought me a copy of the U.S. Constitution — just like every little boy dreams of. [LAUGHTER]. Now I’m older and I recognize, she has a discount at the Supreme Court gift shop. [LAUGHTER] I only wish I thought of it before Uncle Martin died (Martin Ginsburg died in 2010)
PRESS: When did you meet with her, has she seen the film and what was her reaction?
FELICITY JONES: Ah, yes, we all did meet Justice Ginsburg. We were all very nervous before we went in and when we were shown into her office, she couldn’t take her eyes off Armie Hammer. [LAUGHTER]
CARLA: We can’t either. [LAUGHTER]
ARMIE HAMMER: One more Mimosa for…[LAUGHTER]
FELICITY JONES: I could see obviously that love she had for Marty being channeled through Armie. [LAUGHTER] in that moment. But we spent a few days in Washington and got to know each other on a personal level. Obviously like a good lawyer, she’d been meticulous about all the drafts of the script and she’d read every single one. She had approved all the casting. 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.
PRESS: And what was her reaction?
FELICITY JONES: I hear that she’s telling her friends to go and see it. Which is great.
DANIEL STIEPLEMAN: Yeah, she loved the film. We screened it for her, Mimi (Leder), myself, Robert Cort, Jonathan King, our producers and the editor. It was sort of a terrifying thing, as you can imagine and she stood up and stormed out of the theater as soon as the movie ended and we were all like, [GASP] what happened? Then everyone looked at me, because I’m supposed to find out. So… I went up to Jane Ginsburg and said, “Is she okay? Is everything all right?” and Jane looked at me and she said, “Yeah, she had to go to the bathroom,” [LAUGHTER] She came back and just loved the film. She loved Armie and Felicity’s portrayal and I quote “I’m just so glad it’s Felicity.”
DANIEL STIEPLEMAN: I think for me, as a first time writer, the fact that it was a true story meant I couldn’t fall back on cliché. My first instinct was that terrible cliché of like, oh, she’s working mom, therefore she’s too busy to deal with her kids and they must have tension about that. So, I went to Jane and said, “Oh, did you feel neglected?” you know, “Because your parents were both working?” and Jane [LAUGHS] said, “Oh, I would have killed to feel neglected.” [LAUGHTER].
Right as we were wrapping up the junket, I spoke with Daniel briefly and inquired about Ruth’s relationship with Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates). He confided that Ruth and Dorothy had actually never met. That entire scene is dramatized for the purposes of showing that women needed to support each other during that time. Needless to say, my jaw dropped. When you see that scene you will swear that these two women had actually known each other well.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an American institution and should be celebrated until the end of time. If you want to revel in her victories, grab a group of girlfriends or take some young girls to the theatre to check out On The Basis of Sex when it hits theatres nationwide on January 11th.