Marisa Tomei is Gloria Steinem for the HBO Biopic Ms.

By  · Published on February 24th, 2015

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem was only 37 when she co-founded “Ms.” magazine in 1971, but that won’t stop the 50-year-old Marisa Tomei from portraying the famed activist at that time. According to The Wrap, the Oscar-winning actress has been cast as Steinem for an HBO miniseries, which she will executive produce alongside Argo and Good Night, Good Luck partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov (they also previously worked with Tomei on The Ides of March), and the focus will reportedly be the monumental start of the publication. The title of the project, which Steinem is consulting on, is even named for the magazine.

Also on board as executive producers of Ms. are Kathy Najimy, who will co-star as pioneering Congresswoman Bella Abzug, and Bruce Cohen, whose most relevant past effort is Milk. I wouldn’t normally consider a Steinem biopic a remake of the 2011 Steinem documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words, but aside from both projects being made for HBO I’m also seeing the analogy between those two and Milk and the doc The Times of Harvey Milk. I’m curious to see if Gloria director Peter W. Kunhardt will be thanked in the Ms. credits as Times director Rob Epstein was in Milk’s.

As far as what events could make a repeat appearance in the “remake,” there is a very memorable anecdote about the late Abzug in the doc. In her lengthy central interview, Steinem tells of an offensive full-frontal nude cartoon centerfold of her (from “Screw” magazine) that was posted outside the “Ms.” offices. All around her were cartoon penises accompanied by the caption “Pin the cock on the feminist.” Although not mentioned there, it got to her enough that she threatened pornographer Al Goldstein with legal action. The congresswoman joked with her that while it did seem to be a caricature of Steinem that it was her own labia drawn on the body.

My delivery of that story is probably not as good as the firsthand account. So just go watch Gloria: In Her Words, currently available on HBO Go (watch a trailer below), plus this video of Abzug in her own words. And let’s hope Ms. and Najimy give us as enjoyable a portrayal of the politician as she deserves. I already trust that Tomei won’t have any problem as Steinem. See a photo of her in ’70s glasses and she already looks the part at least.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.