'Charlie's Angels' Director Elizabeth Banks on New Adaptation: "It Was All About the Action for Me"

Charlie's Angels Premiere -Elizabeth Banks, Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott - Getty-H 2019
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Elizabeth Banks, Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott at the premiere of Columbia Pictures' Charlie's Angels at Westwood Regency Theater on November 11.

After two TV shows and three films, Banks is the first woman to helm the iconic series — starring in, writing, directing and producing the new movie.

Since its beginning in 1976, Charlie's Angels has always stood for empowered women kicking ass and taking names. Through its 40-year history, though, the franchise — which includes two TV series and three films — has only featured women onscreen, rather than behind the camera; that is, until Elizabeth Banks, who not only stars in, but also wrote, directed and produced the latest take for Sony. 

Carrying on the story set up by Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), the new Charlie's Angels introduces a new generation of crime-fighting women, with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska taking over the iconic roles. For her own adaptation, Banks, who plays one of several Bosley characters (i.e. Charlie's assistants), told The Hollywood Reporter at the world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday that it was "all about the action for me, and I think that the themes are very consistent with every Charlie's Angels that's come before. I wanted to add a little more humor; it's very funny and super action-packed. It was really exciting to direct — especially these women — in action."

As for becoming the first woman to helm the franchise, Banks said she doesn't think much about her place in history, as "it has always felt like a really female-fronted enterprise to me, so I just feel like I'm joining a long legacy of women who have been involved." 

One of her stars, though, sees it differently, as Balinska says that with a woman leading the project, it changes the lens through which the story is told. The actress remembered Banks saying on set that she wanted to tell a story where the Angels worked smarter and not harder "to find each other's strengths and work together as a team, and that's something that is achieved amazingly amongst women, so she definitely brought that." 

Patrick Stewart, who appears in the pic as another Bosley, says that even more important than Banks' groundbreaking work is that "it doesn't just dissipate and filter away, because it has the opportunity now to transform the industry," with a woman in charge of a major franchise, especially an action-based one. 

The actor says he was a big fan of Banks even before working together, calling her Pitch Perfect 2 "absolutely brilliant," and was attracted to a film that was both an iconic part of Hollywood history and a powerful message for women, with "an intent to show what women can do and can achieve, and be entertaining and glamorous and human and real." 

The film also features a star-studded supporting cast, with Stewart, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Jonathan Tucker, Nat Faxton, Chris Pang, Luis Gerardo Mendez and Djimon Hounsou, as well as some A-list cameos, all surrounded by high-tech gadgets and high-flying stunts. 

Producer Elizabeth Cantillon said that the story is unique in that it's about "women at work, women working together who are stronger together than alone," and although the original story began more than 40 years ago and has had some visual facelifts, the new film didn't require big thematic changes as "the potential of women and women hitting a glass ceiling still persists." 

The premiere, held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, also welcomed guests including actress Laverne Cox, gymnast Aly Raisman and skier Lindsey Vonn, as well as drag queens Peppermint, Nina West and Farrah Moan, who ruled the red carpet ahead of the screening.

Charlie's Angels is set to bow Friday.