Born on February 10, 1974, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, actress Elizabeth Banks has pursued a prolific film career with roles in projects like Spider-Man, Invincible, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, W. and the blockbuster The Hunger Games. She has also worked in television, with prominent roles on Scrubs and 30 Rock, for which she has received two Emmy Award nominations. Additionally, she runs the production company Brownstone and made her big-screen directorial debut with the hit Pitch Perfect 2.
Elizabeth Banks was born Elizabeth Maresal Mitchell on February 10, 1974, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. During her childhood she enjoyed the outdoors and was active in sports. She broke her leg while sliding into third base during a softball match and afterwards turned to theater, enjoying the camaraderie and teamwork to be found in performance. Mitchell went on to earn her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude, and then earned her MFA from the American Conservatory Theater from San Francisco.
Banks lived in New York for a time and acquired on-screen experience in Gotham-based TV productions like Sex and the City and Third Watch. She made her movie debut in the gender-twisting drama Surrender Dorothy and starred in the 2000 John Singleton remake of Shaft before changing her last name to Banks. (She didn't want to be confused with another thespian named Elizabeth Mitchell who later starred in the series Lost and V.)
Comedies, Dramas and Sci-fi
Moving to Los Angeles, California, over the next decade, Banks would land roles in scores of films that spanned the gamut from comedy to drama, horror to sci-fi/fantasy. She played Daily Bugle newspaper secretary Betty Brant in Spider-Man (2002), followed by a turn later that year as a bank employee in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. Many other notable roles followed, including parts in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Invincible (2006), Meet Bill (2008), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Definitely, Maybe (2008) and a reprisal of her Brant role in Spider-Man's 2004 and 2007 sequels.
In 2008, Banks starred as First Lady Laura Bush in the Oliver Stone directed, George W. Bush biopic W. The following year she returned to her guest role on the medical comedy Scrubs, in which she had portrayed Dr. Kim Briggs in 2006. In addition to her movie work, Banks continued on TV with a recurring 30 Rock role as conservative news commentator Avery Jessup, who became romantically involved with Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy. Bank received 2011 and 2012 Emmy nominations for her work.
'The Hunger Games'
The year 2012 was a big one for the actress, with six films being released that she starred in—among them People Like Us, The Details, What to Expect When You're Expecting and Man on a Ledge. Her biggest project that year was the screen adaptation of the bestselling Suzanne Collins series The Hunger Games. The film, starring Jennifer Lawrence, featured Banks as Effie Trinket, a capitol representative with a particularized accent who sports brightly-hued wigs, face makeup and extravagant attire. Games grossed more than $690 million worldwide, and Banks was cast in its sequels, Catching Fire (2013), Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014), and Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015).
In 2014, she starred as Melinda Ledbetter in the acclaimed biopic Love & Mercy about the life of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. The following year she appeared in Magic Mike XXL and over several seasons had garnered a role (Sal) on the hit sitcom Modern Family, for which she gained another Emmy nomination in 2015.
'Pitch Perfect' Productions
Banks has worked behind the scenes as well. She started the production company Brownstone with her husband Max Handelman, and the two have produced Surrogates (2009) and the Pitch Perfect movies (2012 and 2015), two comedic outings about an all-women's a cappella group starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson. Banks also made her big-screen directorial debut with the second Pitch Perfect film, which earned around $285 million worldwide, more than doubling the gross of its predecessor. In autumn 2015, it was announced that Banks would helm the third film in the franchise. She has also directed and acted in the short Just a Little Heart Attack as part of the Go Red for Women campaign, which educates viewers on heart disease.
Banks and her husband, who were wed in 2003, have two children.
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