Interview: Elizabeth Banks, on Playing Badass in 'People Like Us' and Effie in 'Catching Fire'

Summer has just begun and  already four out of five movies Elizabeth Banks stars in this year have hit theaters, the latest being this Friday’s People Like Us, in which she plays Frankie, a recovering alcoholic single mother and the long-lost half-sister of a fast-talking salesman (Chris Pine).  “It’s overkill, I’m sure,” says Banks of her back-to-back movie premieres. “It’s crazy. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Banks kicked off the year by helping Sam Worthington get over his fear of heights in Man on a Ledge, followed by a colorful performance as high-strung Effie Trinket in the highly anticipated book adaptation The Hunger Games. She then delivered a hilarious pregnant meltdown in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

Her character in People Like Us is undoubtedly damaged. After being abandoned by her father at a young age, she spiraled out of control, got pregnant and has no recollection of who the father of her baby is. We meet her as a recovering alcoholic working as a bartender trying to make ends meet using street smarts and sex appeal.

“That I am familiar with,” says Banks. “I was a bartender and a cocktail waitress and I dressed for tips as well. I used to work until four or five o’clock in the morning and sometimes we would all go out to the after clubs--that was the life, you didn’t have to go into work until seven o’clock at night.”

As far as her leather-clad character being badass, “I think a lot of it is also a front. It’s a wall that she puts up around herself. It’s protection. She does wear the bad-assery much better than I do. She’s got it going on.”

While Banks may not fit the bill of “badass chick,” she definitely can call herself a successful working mom.

“I’m just like all working moms,” says Banks. “I think I’m barely doing it. I feel like you have to create your village. I do think it takes a village; I was raised by aunts and uncles and grandparents, not just my parents. For me it’s all about having that running tally in my head, where is he, what is he doing, is he safe, does he miss me, and if I can answer all those questions then I can get through my day.”

Banks and her husband Max Handelman are the proud parents of Felix, born via a gestational surrogate at the end of March last year.

Banks admits that a lot of her decisions now are about his quality of life. “I don’t ever want to interrupt or do something that takes away from his life. I was always to be doing things that enhance his life experience. That’s something that I have taken into consideration, if I was offered a movie that would require five months of relocation to Africa, how is that going to affect my son, those are the kind of decisions I am making now.”

Besides all of her movie projects, Banks is also busy keeping up with her website. She blogs about her latest food craves and answers fan questions via Youtube videos.  Her latest post highlights her obsession with Girl Scout cookies, in particular the latest candy bar variation by Nestle that hit the market.

So when we asked, she was quick to give us the lowdown.

“My husband is a Thin Mint freak. I love coconut so I like the new caramel and coconut Nestle crunch. It is uncanny how much they taste like the cookies,” said the former Girl Scout. “I was a Brownie. My mom was literally like the troop leader. My Girl Scout troop included everyone that lived on my street. We would try to go door to door but they would say, ‘Oh, I just bought from Susie or Liza.’ Back then we wouldn’t have been allowed to sell at the grocery stores.”

Banks just wrapped production on her fifth movie of 2012, Pitch Perfect, which she produced with her husband through their company Brownstone Productions. The musical comedy comes out Oct. 5.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Banks. “I’m very proud of the comedy in the movie. There’s an amazing young cast led by Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine. You can’t leave the theater without jumping up and down, if you love Bridesmaids and Bring It On that’s what this movie is.”

As far as giving us the scoop on next November’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, well, her lips were pretty sealed but she is excited about developing her character.

“I think it’s really fun for the audience to see where we are going to go,” said Banks. “I feel very lucky because the audience has clearly embraced Effie and I think they are interested to see where she’s going to go. That’s what you always hope for; you hope that there is a want to know more about your character.”

Catching Fire will be seen through fresh eyes. Who knows what’s going to make it to the screen but I’m excited to get to know Francis [Lawrence, the director],” said Banks.

We know you love Elizabeth Banks as much as we do….what’s your favorite role of hers? Tell us below!

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