While Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be the most well-known and recognized Supreme Court Justice of the modern era, less has been said in recent years about her late husband, Martin Ginsburg. The new film On the Basis of Sex chronicles Ruth’s career and details the landmark case that she and Martin took on which changed the course of their lives and the courts’ view of gender discrimination.
Married to Ruth for 46 years (until his death in 2010), Martin was one of the best tax lawyers of his time and an accomplished legal scholar in his own right. Yet in an era when women were expected to stay home and fulfill the typical gender roles of housewife and mother, Martin and Ruth enjoyed a truly equal partnership and Martin supported his wife’s ascendant career all the way to the Supreme Court, on which she was seated in 1993 and still serves today.
Armie Hammer plays Martin in the film opposite Felicity Jones as Ruth, and tells us below that Martin’s lower public profile gave him a little more creative freedom. “Unlike Felicity, who’s playing an extremely recognizable character, I’m playing a character who really preferred to stay in the background,” says Hammer. “He just wanted to support Ruth…so for me it was less about getting down his walk or his cadence or anything like that. It was more about just getting the essence of who I think this man was.”
Hammer is also adamant about why a movie like On the Basis of Sex, with its exploration of gender, the law and equal rights as they were defined decades ago, is just as relevant today. “Where do I start? Do I start with what’s going on with the Supreme Court? Do I start with what’s going on with gender equality, marriage equality, voting rights — all that stuff that Ruth really was the trailblazer for, in terms of interpreting the Constitution and the legality of antiquated laws.”
On the Basis of Sex is directed by Mimi Leder and also stars Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston and Cailee Spaeny. The film opens tomorrow, Christmas Day (December 25).
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye