Felicity Jones is going to play Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the big screen. When longtime jurist Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, she became just the second woman on the high court, and the first Jewish woman. However, even at the time, she didn’t appear a likely candidate to ever be the subject of a biopic.
But in her 24 years on the bench, Justice Ginsburg has emerged as something of a folk hero for liberal court watchers and others. She’s been the subject of memes. One of her judicial opinions was set to music in a popular YouTube video. Kate McKinnon does a funny impression of her on Saturday Night Live. And the 84-year-old justice has acquired the nickname “The Notorious RBG”, which doubled as the title of a biography of her two years ago. Now, she’s getting the biopic treatment.
Jones will portray Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a biopic titled On the Basis of Sex, Deadline reports, with Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) onboard to direct. The film is based on a script by Daniel Stiepleman, which made the Black List in 2014. The movie, according to Deadline, “follows the travails of Ginsburg as she faced numerous obstacles to her fight for equal rights throughout her career,” with the title referring to language in anti-discrimination statutes.
Natalie Portman was attached to the project for some time and had been expected to play Ginsburg, with Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) attached as director. However, the film will be moving forward instead with Jones, best known for her roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, A Monster Calls and The Theory of Everything.
While she may not be as much of a natural fit for the part as Portman, Jones is likely capable of taking on such a challenging role. The inclusion of Leder - a blockbuster filmmaker of past decades who reinvented herself of late as the signature director on HBO’s great drama The Leftovers – is even more intriguing.
There haven’t been all that many successful biopics of Supreme Court Justices, although there is one - Marshall, about Thurgood Marshall - which is set to arrive this October, with Chadwick Boseman playing the late justice. The challenge will be telling such an expansive story, over the course of Ginsburg’s long and varied career.
There’s not yet a release date yet for On the Basis of Sex, but stay tuned here for more on the film.