You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Constance Wu, Felicity Jones on Feminism and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy

Constance Wu and Felicity Jones sat down for a chat for Variety’s Actors on Actors. For more, click here

Constance Wu and Felicity Jones know something about breaking barriers. On-screen, Jones transforms into a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg for “On the Basis of Sex.” Before the esteemed justice was appointed to the Supreme Court, she was a pioneer of women’s rights. And in this summer’s breakout hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” Wu led the first studio movie in a quarter century to feature an almost entirely Asian-American cast.

Constance Wu: What was the first thing that really drew you to “On the Basis of Sex”?

Felicity Jones: It was the story. It was about this phenomenal woman who we all knew very well. Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t like the world as it was, so she got very angry and decided to change it. I loved her passion, her determination.

Wu: When I was watching it, I went through this roller coaster of emotions of really identifying with the things said to her by men in her profession. It’s this comfort that the patriarchy has with the fact that they have the power. Her character is just as smart but is not respected. I was very upset during a lot of it because I understood it. I knew it was real, and I knew that not everybody would understand what that feels like.

Jones: The odds were just against her constantly, and she’s in a situation where she’s the outsider. They look at her like, “Shouldn’t you just be at home in the kitchen?” She has to keep fighting back against that, and she does it with absolute dignity. I can see why “Crazy Rich Asians” has been such a phenomenal success. It is full of such life and love and hope. How has that experience been?

Wu: My emotions have run the gamut. There was a lot of anticipation behind it. It’s a lot of pressure. The fact that a studio decided to invest in a story from creators of color who didn’t necessarily have a track record of box office success — not because they aren’t a viable box office success but because there was no data to show that we had that — that gave it an authenticity that Asian-American audiences really responded to because we don’t have representation. Other people who are not Asian-American still respond to it because it’s very much about being seen for who you are.

Jones: It should have happened centuries ago. It does feel that the landscape is getting more interesting now that this patriarchal attitude towards filmmaking is breaking down. With a film like “Crazy Rich Asians,” it’s a fusion of quality and reaching a lot of people. There’s no reason that a film can’t be good but millions of people want to see it.

Wu: It’s also because of criticism these days. The critics are primarily male, so it’s seen from a male point of view. There’s a reason why we have the term “chick flicks.” We don’t have “dude movies.” They are just movies.

Jones: That’s why we need 50/50 in male and female critics. It brings a totally different perspective to a film, and it feels deeply unfair that it’s so one-sided. The male view has always been the view, and that is what is shifting. We all live here together, so it’s going to be shared views. How do you process dealing with fans and the attention that comes from your job?

Wu: It’s changed for me over time. When I first started having more visibility, there was a part of me that didn’t want to own it. When somebody came up to me and was like, “Oh, my God. I love you,” I want to say, “I’m not special. You are just as special. Don’t worship me, because worship culture is a lot of the problem.” We value people differently.

Jones: We put people on pedestals.

Wu: But then the more I’ve gone through this, I’m like, you should just be graceful with people who come up to you. I’ve become better at it, but I was uncomfortable with it at first. What about you?

Jones: That’s so true. I don’t mean to name-drop, but I saw Matt Damon at the screening, and he came out the door. I’ve never met him in my life, and I was like, “Hey! How are you?” And he just looked at me like, “Who the hell are you?” You spend so many years watching this person, and he’s so relatable to you on-screen that I just felt like I knew him. I’ve never met him in my life.

Wu: I love that you did that, because I get scared that they won’t know who I am.

Watch the full interview below:

More Film

  • Imogen Poots

    'Black Christmas' Star Imogen Poots on Why Male Horror Fans Should See Slasher Remake

    “Black Christmas” is the second remake of the 1974 slasher classic, which centers on a group of sorority sisters stalked by an unknown murderer. While the original had the female protagonists (SPOILER) offed, in this one, the women fight back. “It’s been called a re-imagining of the original, and I think, in ways that the [...]

  • Imogen Poots as Riley in "Black

    'Black Christmas': Film Review

    “Black Christmas,” a low-budget Canadian horror movie released in 1974, was a slasher thriller with a difference: It was the very first one! Okay, there were more than a few precedents, from “Psycho” (the great-granddaddy of the genre) to “The Last House on the Left” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to Mario Bava’s “A [...]

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss. Creators and

    'Game of Thrones' Creators to Develop H.P. Lovecraft Movie at Warner Bros.

    Following their exit from the “Star Wars” universe, “Game of Thrones” co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have found their replacement pic, signing on to produce an untitled thriller based on the graphic novel “Lovecraft” for Warner Bros. It is unknown if they will also direct the project, but they’ve already set Phil Hay and [...]

  • Little Women Greta Gerwig BTS

    Greta Gerwig and 'Little Women' Crew Mix Modern and Classical

    Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Sony’s “Little Women,” a new look at Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved 19th-century classic. Eager to pay tribute to her artisan colleagues, Gerwig says, “It was a joy for me to work with all these people. It’s a movie that’s impossible to create without world-class artists. They killed themselves for me!” [...]

  • Honey Boy

    Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy' Adds Unusual Twist to Oscar's History With Kids

    Hollywood has made many terrific films about childhood, and many about filmmaking. Amazon’s “Honey Boy,” which opened Nov. 8, combines the two: A movie with a child’s POV of the industry. That unique angle could be a real benefit during awards season, and the film’s backstory — with Shia LaBeouf as the main attraction — will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content