In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Elizabeth Banks sat down to discuss some of her favorite artistic works and gender discrimination and ageism in Hollywood.
From her memorable role in 40 Year Old Virgin, to her role as Effie in The Hunger Games that solidified her as a household name, Banks has had a very exciting and diverse career so far. She has proven herself as a fearless comedian, a reputable dramatic actress, and, now, a successful producer and director.
Banks recently made her directorial debut in Pitch Perfect 2 which was backed by her production company, Brownstone Productions.
Sidebar: Brownstone Productions is currently working on developing Pitch Perfect 3. (*High Five* to my fellow Pitch Perfect fans out there! #acca-scuseme)
Another memorable role of Banks’ is, no doubt, her guest spot as Sal on Modern Family which earned her an Emmy nomination. Banks said she had “zero expectation” of getting an Emmy nom even though she had been a part of Modern Family before the show even premiered:
“I’ve been friends with Jesse Tyler Ferguson for a very long time, probably over 15 years,” Banks said, in her interview with Deadline. “We were at a birthday party in Palm Springs and I knew he had booked a pilot–the Modern Family pilot. I was hanging out with Jason Winer who directed the pilot of Modern Family and we were joking around and drinking and it sort of came up like, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if you were their fun drinking friend on the show?’ We talked about it back then and a few weeks later Jason Winer said, ‘I wrote it. It’s in the script. You want to come do it?’ The show hadn’t even premiered yet.”
Banks also discussed how much she loved the episode in which Sal gets married and why she found it so significant to issues of equal rights and marriage equality:
“I have so much fun doing it,” Banks says. “I really loved when Sal got married–I thought that show was a really great statement about gay marriage. At the time, it was not legal federally and we had screwed up in California and we hadn’t passed gay marriage here. I think it was a real opportunity to just talk about marriage and Mitch and Cam and what marriage is. You know, to let Sal–who’s crazy and married the guy after knowing him for a minute–she’s able to go get married and Mitch and Cam, who are in a committed relationship and raising a child, are not able to get married. I thought it was a really great episode.”
Banks also clearly has a lot of fun playing Sal which, if you ask me, comes across in her amazing performances! She said her favorite moment so far, playing Sal, was when Ferguson (Mitchell) jumped on Eric Stonestreet’s (Cam’s) back:
“I just improv-ed, like, ‘Oh, that answers that question.’ That was probably my favorite moment that I’ve ever had as Sal. The whole crew fell out.”
When asked about her Emmy nomination, Banks said that she felt that Sal’s character development, from party girl to loving mother, was largely responsible for the nom, giving credit to how difficult motherhood really is:
“I think partially I got nominated because it was a turning point for Sal. It was a little bit of Sal’s redemption in this show. It was all about, ‘Is she a little bit reformed, or is she still a party girl with a baby on her hip?’ I think it was fun to assume that she was still a party girl with a baby on her hip and then realize that babies change you. I’m a mother of two kids and it’s really hard. I thought it was really fun to say on TV as a woman and a mother that motherhood is hard. I don’t think they say that enough.”
She continued on to discuss that motherhood is “completely life changing–you’re exhausted all the time. To me, it’s really about the first three years. I mean I’m really deep in it. I have a 4-year-old and an almost 3-year-old. I’m really tired and I work really hard and also a good chunk of your brain just goes towards them and what are they doing and are they safe? You know, you sort of give up that little part of your brain for a long time.”
According to Deadline, Banks had previously commented that she has felt that feeling of “always the bridesmaid” in films and they asked her if she believes “a sort of insidious sexism in Hollywood has affected her choices going forward?”
“Oh, I think it drove me to direct for sure,” Banks said. “I definitely was feeling that I was unfulfilled and a little bit bored by the things that were coming across my desk. I mean things like playing Effie [in The Hunger Games] really helped sustain me. She’s so iconic and I love her and people really get to see the movie but I think at a certain point, everything that’s coming across my desk, I’m like, ‘I’m vibrant and vital and interested. I still got my looks.’ I think it’s really just about my peer group. Just watching my peer group get to still have lead roles in movies and know that more and more, those are going to up-and-comers instead of people who are veterans in the industry. I mean I look at Gwyneth Paltrow who has her Oscar and played fifth banana to Iron Man. That to me is a great example of the fate of women in Hollywood. Like what more can you do? I didn’t even date Brad Pitt so what more can I do?”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Elizabeth Banks is freaking awesome.
P.S. If you haven’t seen her in Wet Hot American Summer, on Netflix, stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it right now. She’s fabulous in it, as always.