Who Is Elizabeth Banks?
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, earning Emmy nominations for her guest roles on 30 Rock and Modern Family. A co-founder of Brownstone Productions, Banks made her big-screen directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015 and later helmed a reboot of Charlie's Angels.
Early Life and Career
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 afterward turned to theater, enjoying the camaraderie and teamwork to be found in performance. Mitchell went on to earn her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude, and then earned her M.F.A. 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.)
Movies and TV Shows
'Wet Hot American Summer,' 'Spider-Man,' 'Catch Me If You Can'
Moving to Los Angeles, California, from New York City, Banks would land roles in scores of films that spanned the gamut from comedy to drama, horror to sci-fi/fantasy. After appearing in the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer (2001), 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.
'W.,' 'Scrubs,' '30 Rock'
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 becomes romantically involved with Alec Baldwin's character, Jack Donaghy. Banks received 2011 and 2012 Emmy nominations for her work.
'The Hunger Games'
Banks appeared in a whopping six films in 2012, including 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).
'Love & Mercy,' 'The Lego Movie,' 'Magic Mike XXL,' 'Modern Family'
In 2014 Banks starred as Melinda Ledbetter in the acclaimed biopic Love & Mercy, about the life of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, and also provided voice work for The Lego Movie. The following year she appeared in Magic Mike XXL and gained another Emmy nomination for her recurring role of Sal on the hit sitcom Modern Family. Banks also revisited her old role of Lindsay for the Netflix miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017).
'Power Rangers,' 'The Happytime Murders,' 'Brightburn'
Also in 2017 Banks co-starred in the latest version of Power Rangers, as the traitorous Rita Repulsa. After sharing the screen with Melissa McCarthy and a series of puppets in 2018's The Happytime Murders, she returned to voice work for 2019's The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. That year she also featured prominently in Brightburn, as the mother of an alien child with terrible powers.
'Pitch Perfect' Productions and Directing
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, 2015 and 2017), three comedic outings about an all-women's a cappella group starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson.
Banks 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. She 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.
Taking on a big load, Banks signed up to co-write, direct, produce and act in a 2019 reboot of Charlie's Angels, starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska as the crime-fighting trio. Although the film underwhelmed at the box office during its opening weekend, Banks insisted she was proud of the final product.
Banks married film producer and sportswriter Max Handelman in 2003, and together they have two sons, Felix and Magnus, both born via surrogate.
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