On The Basis Of Sex Almost Didn’t Happen Because The Husband Was Too Supportive

Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features.
Hidden in the fascinating details of how On the Basis of Sex got made (Ruth Bader Ginsburg held 11 p.m. meetings about the movie and rightly seemed to think Armie Hammer was delicious eye candy) in the New York Times, comes a nugget that will take your breath away.
Apparently, multiple financiers and Hollywood executives who looked at the script found the level of supportiveness that Martin Ginsburg (Hammer) exhibited to be unbelievable. In fact, they reportedly went so far as to offer to finance and/or make the film only if his role were rewritten to be angrier, less understanding, or generally more of an asshole.
"It came up a lot," the film's screenwriter and nephew of RBG, Daniel Stiepleman, told the Times. "I remember at some point saying in a meeting, 'There’s a 5,000-year history of narrative, of men coming home from battle, and their wives patch them up and boost their egos and send them back out to fight again.' You write one supportive husband, and everyone’s like, such a creature could never exist!"
Color me shocked — the primarily male heads of studios and financiers for movies don't buy a narrative where a man isn't a selfish prick who acts as if he's the center of the universe.
The film's director, Mimi Leder, agreed with Stiepelman and Ginsburg's visions: to make the film as true to the original story as possible and to focus on the love story between the Ginsburgs. RBG herself said in a Q&A after a screening of the film that one item in it was completely untrue; that moment when she is overcome with fear in court and cedes the floor to her husband. Neither the nerves nor the ceding ever happened.
As for Hammer, what he had to say to the Times about his character is something all men (and development execs) should take a note on. "...I think that there is a lot to be gained from seeing that a man can be an even better and stronger man, while still being an incredibly supportive husband and a buttress for his wife. It didn’t make him any less of a man. If anything, it made him more."
Sorry narrow-minded men of Hollywood, you can't keep a good woman down...or keep a good man quiet.

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