“Shes Tough”: The Film World Is Pulling for R.B.G.

The film world is rooting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. On Wednesday, the 85-year old Supreme Court justice fell and fractured three ribs, sending supporters into a panic. But filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, the duo behind this years documentary RBG, found solace in the fact that Ginsburg has beaten much harder odds.

“Shes tough; shes survived broken ribs, not to mention cancer,” West told IndieWire. “Shes never missed a day on the court before; she likes to work.”

Naturally, they were concerned when they heard that the justice had fallen, but the fact that Ginsburg wasnt initially concerned about her injury only underlined her toughness: “It was a moment where you just went, Oh, no,” West said. “But the fact that she fell, went home, slept, and then thought, Gee, I dont feel so good. Maybe I better go to the hospital.”

West and Cohens comments arrive shortly after the world premiere of On the Basis of Sex, the R.B.G. biopic starring Felicity Jones as the legendary judge in her early days. The biopics premiere took place Thursday night at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles. Daniel Stiepleman, Ginsburgs nephew and the screenwriter on the film, told reporters there that his aunt was “doing great,” according to Reuters.

“The last I heard she was up and working, of course—because what else would she be doing?—and cracking jokes,” he said. “I cant promise they were good jokes, but they were jokes.”

As a timely biopic with an Academy-friendly cast, On the Basis of Sex has long been considered a natural Oscar front-runner. Its chances are only aided by the fact that R.B.G. is more relevant than ever, especially after the divisive Brett Kavanaugh hearings. And RBG, which was a critical and commercial success, has only grown more significant over time, West said, even though she and Cohen decided to make the film in 2015—under a much different political climate.

“We had no idea, in 2015, that the political landscape would be so polarized,” said West, “that Donald Trump would become our president, that #MeToo, Times Up, and obviously the past six months with Justice Kennedy retiring and the Kavanaugh hearing—its sort of like every day theres some new way in which Justice Ginsburg seems very front and center for people.”

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Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Inside Joni Mitchells 75th Birthday CelebrationYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.


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