Some Potential Backers of RBG Biopic Wanted to Rewrite Marty Ginsburg to Be a Total Dick

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg in 2003
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg in 2003
Image: Associated Press

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Martin Ginsburg, who died in 2010, were known to have a loving and egalitarian marriage, one in which Martin—or Marty as he was known—was, in her words, her “best friend and biggest booster.” It’s a tender relationship that’s captured in On the Basis of Sex, the movie about RBG that came out this year. But for some potential backers of the movie, the idea that Marty could be such a decent man and husband was so perplexing that they wanted to rewrite his character in the movie to be a total dick.


Daniel Stiepleman, Marty’s nephew who wrote the screenplay, shared this anecdote with the New York Times:

To anyone who was around the Ginsburgs, their unusual parity was obvious. But to financiers and development executives, the character of Martin Ginsburg as a supportive husband was far-fetched. Backers offered to fund the film if he was rewritten as angrier, or less understanding; maybe he should threaten to divorce his wife, if she didn’t drop the case.

“It came up a lot,” Stiepleman said. “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!”


Like the real-life Marty, Armie Hammer was happy to play a supporting role in the movie. “And 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,” Hammer told the Times. “It didn’t make him any less of a man. If anything, it made him more.”

Senior reporter, Jezebel

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



I have mentioned before that my father dated RBG in high school, then, in college met my mother. The relationship between my parents is much like the Ginsburgs: very equal - always was, and still going strong after 63 years of marriage.

Perhaps both Ruth and my mother had a type (or should I say, a standard): highly educated guy who’s confident enough to not get in the way of a comparably highly educated woman’s aspirations and accomplishments.

I’ve always felt - to the extent people are influenced by what they’re exposed to culturally - the public has been done a disservice by under-representing the modern educated gentleman who places women on an equal footing, and is not considered weak for this, but rather admirable.