Elizabeth Banks: 10 Revealing Outtakes From the Hollywood Reporter Cover Story
The 'Pitch Perfect 2' director, producer and star shoots from the hip in interviews — here are some of the best quotes that didn't make it into the final feature.
Pitch Perfect 2 director, producer and star Elizabeth Banks is well known for giving candid, smart and hilarious interviews. And in sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter for a recent cover story, Banks certainly did not disappoint. Here then are ten revealing quotes that we couldn't quite cram into THR's cover feature on the newly minted comedy director.
1. The Pitch Perfect riff-offs came from a similar event held among "musical theater nerds" at Banks' college.
"The riff-off came out of a college experience that I had attending what we call 'Hootenannies' where a bunch of theater groups gets together and there's a piano in the middle of the room and everybody has sheet music and everybody tries to one-up with the other group. It becomes very raucous. It's like a giant party, really, but we’re a bunch of, like, nerds who love to sing. So I just always had this idea of taking that competition idea to the next level."
Read more: Pitch Perfect 2: Film Review
2. Growing up in Pittsfield, Mass., Banks' family would gather for nightly dinners — except her dad, who worked back-to-back shifts at the G.E. plant. The eldest of four children, Banks was put to work helping to raise her baby brother.
"My mom pretty much made some version of chicken and a salad every night. Iceberg lettuce only and potatoes. Unless it was Friday because we were Catholic, in which case we had no meat and we either had, like, spaghetti without meat sauce and pizza night — and fish. But my mom's not great with fish. She really just cooks one kind of fish. In Massachusetts we call it 'cod.' She made some cod. ... I did help out a lot especially when my baby brother was born. I’m eleven — and almost twelve — years older than him. So, I was a fifth grader when he was born and going into middle school."
3. Banks was raised Catholic, but around the age of 8, she began questioning the religion. Later in life she converted to Judaism, her husband Max Handelman's faith. She explains her thinking:
"Particular aspects of Judaism really engaged me. I would say first of all, you know, the notion that I grew up with was you have to do good deeds, so you can go to Heaven, right? There’s a reward. If you’re good you get rewarded, and if you're bad, you’re condemned. And like I said, that didn’t fly for me from the get-go. So, the notion in Judaism that we should do good deeds because it’s the right thing to do because we’re all in this together — that really appeals to me generally. Like, let’s just be good to each other because it’s a nice thing to do. Let’s be our best selves for the here and now. Not because maybe in the end there’ll be a reward. That really appeals to me.
4. Banks and Handelman first met on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania as freshmen. She says it was far from love at first sight.
"In fact, we got into a little fight the very first night that we met because I offered him my phone number at the end of our conversation and he replied, 'I don’t have a phone.' To which I said, 'Dude, if you’re not going to call me or you don’t want my number, I don’t really care about you.' " [Handelman did call and asked Banks out on a date.] "And we’re on this maiden date. First of all, we rode in a taxi, which I — you know — didn’t really do growing up. And I’m really from a small town. So, we rode in a taxi. And he, you know, he like knew how to tip. He was classy. He knew how to tip. He took me to a jazz club where we'd eat dinner in one room and then you sort of went into the show. A two-drink minimum. We were eighteen and nineteen. We drank, like, brown liquor and had this amazing singer singing to us at this like smoky jazz club in Philadelphia."
5. Despite having lived there since 2001, Banks still doesn't quite feel at home in Los Angeles.
"I just have no roots here. I have no family here and neither does my husband. You know, we've had to make a family here and make a life here out of nothing. [When I moved to L.A.] I was a grownup. I wasn't one of these young [actors]. I didn't come up through any of the child acting stuff. I've made movies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire and sort of that group of guys. And like they have been doing this since they were babies. It's just all they know."
6. The workaholic Banks unwound from Pitch Perfect 2 by filming a cameo in Magic Mike XXL, in which she plays the host of a convention where male strippers entertain thousands of women.
"I was in post on Pitch Perfect 2, which I had been working on every single day nonstop for however many months. I get a call one day: 'Hey, the guys want to know if you want to fly down and shoot a couple scenes in Magic Mike?' Well yeah, I want to be in Magic Mike! I mean first of all I love all those guys. They're the nicest, best guys. And I just needed a mental break. That's really what it was. I needed a little bit of a reset button, and I needed to remind myself that I'm a performer. I got to perform in Pitch Perfect 2, which is great obviously. But, you know, I hadn't, like, acted in a while."
7. Hunger Games fans can be intense, it's true — but Banks says she's made peace with the fact that fans are why she got into the business in the first place.
"I have an actress friend who was complaining about something. And she just said, 'You know, I'm an actress. I have to stop pretending that I don't want people to look at me.' And that's the thing ... we don't do this for, like, our mom or, like, ourselves in a closet. We are trying to affect people. We want people to see the work. That's why we do it. We are holding up a mirror to society and asking them to, you know, question their lives and be entertained."
8. Banks is fiercely protective of her sons, Felix, 4, and Magnus, 2. She describes their personalities:
"They have their mother's sunny disposition. Their father's intelligence, stubbornness, and they're very happy. They're very happy little guys. They're really fun. They're really fun to be around. Yeah, they're sweet and they're very — they love each other, which is great. Both Max and I are from four-child families. We really love our siblings, and we really are focused on creating that bond for them as much as we can, knowing that they will all likely fight to the death for years to come."
9. A self-described "capital-F feminist," Banks says sexism can rear its head in subtle ways.
"You know, it's little things. The thing about sexism is it's not typically, in my daily life, very overt. It's much more insidious. And frankly it's just much more ingrained in our society. It's a very large, complicated issue. There are so many issues that involve women's rights — starting with the right to choose and pay equity. Security. You know, there is a difference between a woman walking down the street and a man walking down the street at night. There are lots of things that men don't have to think about. Just the acknowledgment of that would be nice."
10. As a studio-level female director, Banks accepts that all eyes will now be on her.
"There is really a short list of women who get to make studio-level films. And now I'm on it. Yeah, I do take that responsibility seriously. Whether you want to or not, you kind of can't not take that seriously. I wish I didn't have to be the representative for — you know, "a representative," not "the" – a representative for female directors, but I don't really have a choice is the problem. We'll see.