Elizabeth Banks Reveals Effie's Inspiration
I have loved Elizabeth Banks since 2001's Wet Hot American Summer. Although, at that point, she was just the tongue-tastic chick with BBQ sauce all over her face. In addition to putting a name to the messy face, the last 11 years have seen Elizabeth's star slowly, but steadily, rise -- going supporting actress in movies like Spider-Man and Seabiscuit to leading lady in W and Role Models.
March will bring her biggest role yet when The Hunger Games is unleashed upon the world and her seemingly perfect realization of Effie Trinket is put on screen for all the world to see.
I recently caught up with Elizabeth, who was promoting her partnership with The American Heart Association, to talk all about The Hunger Games, Effie's heath-endangering wardrobe and her favorite role of all time!
Insider.com: Were you prepared for the level of fandom The Hunger Games attracts?
Elizabeth Banks: Going in, I really wasn't. Obviously, I am now [laughs]. It's all anybody wants to talk about. I knew the books were great, I knew the characters were great and I knew Katniss was an amazing heroine, so I knew we had the goods and now it's just a matter of whether people come see it. And I think they will – this is a really great movie. It'll be wild to see people's reactions to something as beloved as Suzanne's books.
Insider: The Effie costumes look amazing and you've spoken about the difficulty of navigating in them. Did you run for sweatpants at the end of every day?
Elizabeth: [laughs] Absolutely! Although it wasn't actually sweatpants because it was 105 degrees on set almost every day. It was so hot, I actually got heat exhaustion when we shot The Reaping – which I'd never experienced before. It was pretty crazy. It was more like, "How little clothing can I put on?" It was all about slip dresses.
Insider: Do you have a favorite Effie ensemble?
Elizabeth: My favorite Effie ensemble is the green hair outfit – I just love the puffy sleeves. We really played with proportions. It's all these tiny, tiny, tiny waists and then something big elsewhere – sometimes it's the sleeves or the hips, the shoulders, the collar or the bustle. I love that green outfit, it's the best.
Insider: The one thing I was very taken with in the trailer is the voice you use as Effie. How did you come up with that?
Elizabeth: That was actually one of my greater challenges when it came to playing this role. It's something I stressed about for the most amount of time – I knew the clothes would be amazing, I saw the wigs and we played with the makeup for two really long days. So I knew the look would be taken care of because of the amazing collaborators we had on the film. But the voice was on me – it was all about what I came up with. It was definitely a lot of pressure. I mean, the book talks about Effie's Capitol accent almost right away. I wanted something that was unique and theatrical, but not too British or too Southern – it was a really fine balance we had to find.
Insider: And how did you land on the right voice?
Elizabeth: I looked to a lot of different places for inspiration and settled on Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. She's one of my all-time favorite actors and one of my all-time favorite characters. If anyone is theatrical and amazing and lives that life, I imagine them to be very much like Effie. I saw her as the aunt that sits at the dinner table and says the most outrageous things.
Insider: I always love asking actors which character they'd love to revisit in order to play the next chapter in their life story.
Elizabeth: I'd love to see where Laura Bush actually goes [laughs] – she'd be interesting. But my favorite character of all time was Miri from Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I'd love to know if she ever left Pittsburgh. I'd like to know what she's up to at 60. I feel like she writes this amazing book and becomes a sexologist, gets super famous which embarrasses her children, divorces Zack and remarries all these crazy guys. I feel like she'd have an insane life.
Insider: There was lots of buzz around Zack and Miri but it didn't perform that well at the big box office -- how much attention do you pay to the critical and public reception of a film?
Elizabeth: I'm pretty good about leaving it behind. The thing about actors is, we personally have very little control over what ends up no screen. Miri is one piece of a large puzzle that became Zack and Miri Make a Porno. It involved all the other performers and collaborators and the editors and the director – there were definitely scenes about Miri's backstory that I would have loved to see in the movie that got cut, but you have to give up control as an actor because you have none. It's an illusion.
The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23.