Mimi Leder Confirms She’s Directing Natalie Portman in Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic ‘On the Basis of Sex’
You don’t have to be a fan of HBO’s The Leftovers to know Mimi Leder is one of the most talented directors working today. (For more proof, just look at the headline of The Ringer’s profile of Leder from earlier today.) An upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic starring Natalie Portman became all the more exciting when the Deep Impact director was rumored to be attached; what a fantastic trifecta of brilliant women that would be! We won’t have to dream about it any longer though. While discussing the HBO drama, Leder confirmed the biopic will be her next project.
Ahead of the Season 3 premiere of The Leftovers on Sunday, I hopped on the phone with Leder to chat about the ambitious new season. (Read our spoiler-free review here.) The series’ executive producer directs three episodes this season, including Sunday’s premiere and the series finale, which HBO has yet to reveal the title of. After discussing the themes and details behind the Damon Lindelof drama (stay tuned for our full interview with Leder this Sunday after the premiere) I asked Leder about returning to the film industry.
Back in the ‘90s, Leder was best known as the director of Deep Impact, though after helming the 2000 drama Pay It Forward, she brought her talents to the small screen. But her name has popped up in relation to big studio projects recently, namely when she was on the shortlist for Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider reboot. After having directed such stunning cinematic episodes in The Leftovers, I asked Leder if she was interested in returning to the big screen and if she felt passionate about directing big budget projects. That’s when she told me she’s directing Portman in On the Basis of Sex, based on the historic Supreme Court Justice and her fight for gender equality. She shared a bit about the plot and revealed filming begins later this summer:
I’m directing – my next project is called On the Basis of Sex. It’s the true story of the early years of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it focuses on Ruth in 1970 taking, and winning against all odds, the first two cases that declared discrimination on the basis of sex unconstitutional. It’s not a big budget movie, it stars Natalie Portman and it’s a very exciting project to be a part of.
Leder added that for her, working in film and TV feel one and the same. “The Leftovers, to me is completely filmic,” she said, “and I think it rates up there with some of the best films.” The director said she hopes to continue working in both mediums, but is open to helming a big budget studio project if it was original and allowed for enough creative control:
Would I do a big budget film? I would if it was the right film. If it’s the right story, if I feel I can tell it in my own way with, if it’s unique. I don’t want to make a carbon copy of films that have already been made. I’m open to everything, I’m open to good stories and good storytelling. That’s what I want to do. So it doesn’t matter to me. There’s so much great stuff on the small screen. And there’s some really great stuff on the big screen. But I would say, the small screen – wow, there’s just so much good.
Having seen the first seven episodes of The Leftovers‘ final season, I can confirm that there’s certainly a lot of good to come on TV this year. Once it all ends we can look forward to On the Basis of Sex, a project that sounds like it has Oscars written all over it.