Elizabeth Banks Talks 'The Hunger Games'

Monday, 09 January 2012 17:49 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Elizabeth Banks Talks 'The Hunger Games'

For most audiences, their introduction to Elizabeth Banks saw her wearing a pageboy wig and manning a desk at the Daily Bugle in all three of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films.  Banks has never been pigeonholed as Betty Brant or anything else, for that matter.  The actress is perhaps most associated with comedies, having memorably appeared in films such as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Wet Hot American Summer, and Role Models, amongst others.  She's also an accomplished actor in more dramatic fare like The Next Three Days, Seabiscuit, Invincable, and the upcoming Man on a Ledge.  She even played Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W.

For her role in the anticipated The Hunger Games, Banks reunites with her Seabiscuit director Gary Ross to bring the vivid futuristic world of Suzanne Collins's bestselling young adult novels to the cinematic life.  The film, which studio is Lionsgate is hoping will be the first of a trilogy including Catching Fire and Mockingjay, takes place in a dystopia where young people from twelve impoverished districts are forced to compete in an annual televised survival competition.  Banks plays Effie Trinket, a crucially important character throughout the trilogy who acts as a sort of public relations escrot to the District 12 tributes, played by stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.

Banks recently shared some insight on her relationship to the the film and the property on which it is based.  Apparently, Banks was familiar with Collins's novels long before she ever became involved in the film adaptation. 

"I am actually an early adopter of The Hunger Games," she said.  "I read them long ago, probably three years ago or something."

Asked how exactly she discovered the novel, Banks explained, "Actually because of my producing career. I was looking at another book called The Maze Runner – which is also a really cool book if you guys are interested – to option and we were meeting about optioning it and one of our publishing friends said to us, 'If you like this Maze Runner book you'll probably really like The Hunger Games.' And so I read them. I read the first one literally right when it came out and then got the second one I think from Lionsgate because they had it. And then was on the list to get Mockingjay on Amazon like waiting for it to come out like, 'when's it coming?' like literally a year before it came out."

Because the novels have such a devoted a vocal following, there is naturally a lot of pressure on the filmmakers.  In every stage of the film's development, choices have been scrutinized and parsed over by fans hoping to see exactly the movie that's been playing in their heads for the last several years.

"I really don't feel the pressure," Banks revealed. "I play Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games and I was a huge fan of the books and Suzanne Collins's writing and Gary Ross who is making the movie. He and I had worked together before and it was just a couple conversations about doing it together and I was a little naive, frankly, about just the status of the movie. I just wanted to play Effie Trinket because I really loved the books. Now that we've made them and they're in the can, I'd like to say Suzanne Collins, who's the author, she blessed everything that we did. I had amazing collaborators, all Academy Award nominated including Gary Ross who worked on the movie, worked on collaborating with me on figuring out who and what Effie was gonna be and they're all really happy. As long as Suzanne Collins, the author, is happy, then I'm happy and all the haters, I don't care."

Banks next stars alongside Sam Worthington in Man on a Ledge, which arrives in theaters on January 27th, while  The Hunger Games is set to hit a theater near you on March 23rd.

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