As one of the only women attending Harvard Law School, and subsequently as one of the only female lawyers looking for work in New York City, a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) faces an uphill battle — and plenty of sexism — in the new biopic On the Basis of Sex. She’s constantly belittled by the men surrounding her, even purported allies, like an ACLU colleague played by Justin Theroux.
Jones, the 35-year-old Oscar-nominated actress of Theory of Everything and Rogue One fame, obviously rose up in her own profession in a different era, yet could still very much relate.
“I definitely empathized with Ruth’s feelings of being an outsider,” Jones told Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press day (watch above). “Growing up in the film and television industries, I’d often be on a set and be in the minority, being one of the few women in that situation. So I definitely channeled that in playing her.”
As portrayed in the film, RBG’s rise through the legal ranks and as a champion of women’s rights actually started when she and her husband Marty Ginsburg (Armie Hammer) fought on a man’s behalf in a 1972 sexual discrimination suit. A victory would open the door to challenge countless examples where discrimination against women was legal at the time.
“It’s just a testament to how important it is, what she’s been arguing for, that we keep fighting for that equality,” Jones said. “And how important that equality is for everyone. So much of what Ruth and Marty was fighting for was that we don’t let gender stereotypes limit anyone.”
On the Basis of Sex is now in select theaters and opens nationwide on Friday.
Watch Jones and cast debate the notion of RBG as a “modern-day superhero”:
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