Natalie Portman signs on to play Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: good or bad call?


I’m a big fan of the Notorious RBG, also known as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. President Clinton nominated RBG to the Supreme Court back in 1993 and since then, she’s become the Liberal Conscience of the court. Feminists and fans gave her the affectionate nickname The Notorious RBG (which she loves, by the way) because she has no f—ks to give and she takes principled, well-reasoned liberal stances on a host of issues before the court. RBG is also 82 years old and refusing to retire, despite some calls for her to step down while a Democrat holds the White House. She has repeatedly said that she still feels vital and that she will not be retiring during Pres. Obama’s tenure.

Why this background information? Well, someone in Hollywood thinks it would be a good idea to make a bio-pic about a sitting Supreme Court Justice. And someone wants Natalie Portman to play the Notorious RBG.

Natalie Portman is set to play Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On The Basis Of Sex, with Marielle Heller (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl) in negotiations to direct. Focus Features is in talks to come onboard to finance. The script, which follows the travails of Ginsburg as she faced numerous obstacles to her fight for equal rights throughout her career, was written by Daniel Stiepleman and made the 2014 Black List. Robert W. Cort is producing with Ram Bergman exec producing.

Ginsberg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-President Clinton, becoming only the second female justice (after Sandra Day O’Connor) and the first Jewish female justice. Prior to that, she developed a reputation as a keen advocate for the advancement of women’s rights. Time magazine this year labeled her an “Icon” in its Time 100. The classy project is coming together quickly with a hoped-for production start by the end of the year. That would put it ahead of Alex Garland’s sci-fi project Annihilation, for which Portman has been rumored.

[From Deadline]

On one side, we always complain that Hollywood doesn’t make enough movies about strong women, about political women, about women who fight for what they believe in. On the other side… this sounds like it could end up doing a great disservice to RBG. It sounds like it could definitely veer into some Lifetime-esque drama. I’m guessing that, considering Portman’s age, this would only be focused on RBG’s pre-Supreme Court days, like back in the 1960s and ‘70s. Which also means that the whole thing could read like Mad Men-without-the-ennui. I don’t know, maybe it’s because Portman is attached to it, but I’m really not feeling this.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

37 Responses to “Natalie Portman signs on to play Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: good or bad call?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Gilda says:

    I also see this like a Lifetime movie

  2. Kiddo says:

    I think the casting is okay, but I feel like this is the wrong time for this film, that the integrity of the film will be compromised, since many of the characters are still living, and that it will devolve into a Lifetime feature.

    • Shambles says:

      Do you think RBG would agree to be involved with the film? Involved in that she would be consulted to make sure the integrity of her story remains intact. I feel like that could help this film stay out of Liz & Dick territory.

      • Kiddo says:

        I was considering ‘others’ in the struggle pro/anti. And as much respect as I have for RBG, and it is a boatload, I think more accurate portrayals are accomplished sometimes when the subject is gone. There is no desire to flatter or otherwise not upset this person. Plus, the story hasn’t ended and the struggle continues. I think looking back historically, in the future, might present a better context.

        Also, part of me feels like this is a vanity project for Portman. I know, cynical, I am.

      • Shambles says:

        Well said, and I definitely appreciate your thoughts on this. I can see where it would better serve RBG and the film to look back from a historical perspective.

        As far as this being a vanity project for Natalie, even if it is cynical I have to agree. Very “look, this is my serious actress face.”

      • FLORC says:

        Shambles Kiddo
        Agree with it all. And it will be a mess.

  3. AK says:

    Bad bad bad call (on the Portman casting).

  4. GlimmerBunny says:

    The casting is good, but I don’t understand the need for biopics about living subjects. I actually find it a little bit creepy.

    • embertine says:

      Co-signing all of this. Don’t mind the casting, but very uncomfortable with a movie about NOTORIOUS RBG. Besides, she’s not allow to retire, and certainly not to die, ever, as we need her to still be kicking righteous levels of ass when she’s 120.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Biopics are done about living people all the time. Muhammad Ali and Queen Elizabeth 2 had excellent biopics done about them.

  5. Shambles says:

    Call me crazy, but I think AnnE would have been a better pick for RBG.

    • Gilda says:

      Anne is also a better actress that Portman

    • Shambles says:

      @ Gilda, agree. After reading the article I actually spent a good minute thinking about who I would have picked instead, and Anne’s surperior acting chops were the reason I went with her. It definitely helps that I think she bears more of a likeness to RBG.

    • Naddie says:

      You’re not crazy, Anne IS better.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Anne is too tall.

  6. Lilacflowers says:

    Biopics do tend to be Lifetime-y. The Notorius RBG is everything

  7. ncboudicca says:

    i wear my Notorious RBG shirt with pride. I dunno about Natalie Portman now – can’t they wait another 20 years to make this movie?

  8. OhDear says:

    RBG hasn’t even *retired* yet!

    As for casting – it’s not terrible, I guess – but I don’t think Portman can do RBG justice.

  9. Imo says:

    Oh great. Tons of new interviews with Portman struggling to hold forth on the Constitution, feminism and breaking barriers. Pre-eyeroll.

  10. perplexed says:

    Natalie has a certain child-like quality to her so I can’t imagine her playing a Supreme Court Judge.

    • Snazzy says:

      Exactly. She doesn’t have the presence to carry such a role.
      Honestly, I don’t consider her a very good actress and would end up doing a disservice to the legacy of such an amazing woman.

  11. PunkyMomma says:

    No to Natalie Portman. And to this pic – if you’re going to tell her story, tell all of it – Justice Ginsberg’s reign as Notorious RBG is beyond legendary. Wait for Tilda.

  12. Antonym says:

    I like the casting. I like the concept. I want more movies revolving around strong women. But, too soon?

  13. Mary says:

    They should have hired Kate McKinnon from SNL. Her RBG is everything to me!

  14. Another Anna says:

    I’m not really for this casting. It definitely feels like a vanity project and I’m not sure Portman can act well enough to pull it off. There’s a quiet, wry power to RBG. Portman’s level of acting seems to be desperate shouting and a little bit of frailty. I never thought her Oscar for Black Swan was well deserved. She’s basic, as an actress and that worries me because there’s a lot of nuance and sass to RBG that I just don’t see Natalie Portman being able to pull off. In her older days I could see her being played by maybe Idina Menzel? In her younger days, I’m really not sure who could do it. Part of RBG’s charm is Ruth Bader Ginsburg and out of a very, very, very select group, who can really pull off that kind of charm?

  15. Sumodo1 says:

    Portman? Who were they going to cast instead? Sarah Silverman?

  16. Tiffany says:

    Nope. If I were to pick someone it would be Rachel Weisz.

  17. Anna says:

    Anna Kendrick would have been a great option personally. She resembles RBG far more than Natalie plus she’s proven she can actually act.

  18. Dante says:

    Oof, this is bad casting. I have to admit I don’t think NP is a consistently good actress and I just don’t think she has the chops for this. Also, not a fan of biopics on living figures with political ties. It’s nice when you get enough time and distance away from the subject so personal bias or agenda doesn’t taint the story.

  19. Grace says:

    This something I would watch. I love RBG, not always on her ruling, but because of how determined she was to practice law at a time when women were not considered “the right fit” for law. I also think its timely because young women who have a negative view on feminism now need to know and fully understand a time when women had little rights, couldn’t own homes by themselves, etc. And it is women like RBG, who did something about it that now young women have the freedom to have a career if they wish to. I can’t stand Natalie Portman but she kind of looks like RBG when RBG was younger.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      ” I also think its timely because young women who have a negative view on feminism now need to know and fully understand a time when women had little rights, couldn’t own homes by themselves, etc. ”

      I agree, 100%.

  20. Tiffany :) says:

    Honestly, I’d love for an RBG movie to be made. I’m in the minority who thinks Natalie is a good actress, so I think this sounds like a great idea.

    On one hand, I understand the hesitation to make a movie about someone while they are still living…on the other hand, I kind of hate that our most sincere accolades as a society come after someone has passed. Why not appreciate their contributions and celebrate them while they are still here to experience it?

    I think our young women would be greatly served by seeing a movie about RBG. Let’s get it made.

  21. moon says:

    Portman’s a smart girl, but a terrible actress. Someone please give this role to some other more worthy actress.

  22. Snarky says:

    Hahaha. This idea just sounds bad, all around. A RBG movie with a youngish actress is only going to play out like a weird Lifetime flick. And Natalie Portman last played a stron woman convincingly when she was 11.

  23. LA Juice says:

    Natalie Portman is not a very good actress. This depresses the snarky celebrity gossip addict and the lawyer in me. I would rather have Reese Witherspoon’s daughter die her hair and play RBG.