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Elizabeth Banks

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Elizabeth Banks
Banks promoting Charlie's Angels (2019 film) in 2019
Elizabeth Irene Mitchell

(1974-02-10) February 10, 1974 (age 50)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
American Conservatory Theater (MFA)
  • Actress
  • producer
  • director
Years active1998–present
WorksFull list
(m. 2003)

Elizabeth Banks (born Elizabeth Irene Mitchell;[1] February 10, 1974)[2] is an American actress, producer and director. She is known for playing chaperone Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games film series (2012–2015), Wyldstyle in The Lego Movie franchise, and an ICCA commentator in the Pitch Perfect film series (2012–2017). She made her directorial film debut with Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), whose $69 million opening-weekend gross set a record for a first-time director.[3][4] She has since directed the action comedy Charlie's Angels (2019) and the horror comedy film Cocaine Bear (2023). Banks founded the film and television production company Brownstone Productions in 2002 with her husband, Max Handelman.

Banks made her film debut in the low-budget independent film Surrender Dorothy (1998). She has appeared in films such as Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), Seabiscuit (2003), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Slither (2006), Invincible (2006), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Role Models (2008), The Next Three Days (2010), Man on a Ledge (2012), What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012), Movie 43 (2013), The Lego Movie (2014) and its sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), Love & Mercy (2014), Walk of Shame (2014), Magic Mike XXL (2015), Power Rangers (2017), Brightburn (2019), and Call Jane (2022).

On television, Banks had a recurring role as Avery Jessup on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock (2010–2012), which earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. She also had recurring roles on the comedy series Scrubs (2006–2009) and Modern Family (2009–2020), the latter of which earned her a third Primetime Emmy Award nomination. She starred in the Netflix miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017). Since 2019, Banks has hosted the ABC revival of the game show Press Your Luck.[5]

Early life[edit]

Banks was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the eldest of four children of Ann (née Wallace) and Mark P. Mitchell.[6] Her father, a Vietnam War veteran, was a factory worker for General Electric, and her mother worked in a bank.[7] She described her family as "very meat-and-potatoes, old-school Irish Catholic."[8] Growing up, she played baseball and rode horses. She was in Little League when she broke her leg sliding into third base. She then tried out for the school play, which was her start in acting.[9]

She graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1992 and is a member of the Massachusetts Junior Classical League.[10] She attended the University of Pennsylvania,[11] where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority and was elected to the Friars Senior Society. She graduated magna cum laude in 1996 with a major in communications and a minor in theater arts.[12] In 1998, she completed schooling at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, where she earned an MFA degree.[13][14]


1998–2005: Early career and breakthrough[edit]

Banks (upper) at the Seabiscuit screening at the White House in 2003.

Banks changed her name upon joining the Screen Actors Guild, as actress Elizabeth Mitchell was already registered in the union under that name.[15]

After auditioning in New York, she was offered a role on the soap opera Santa Barbara. Taking the role would have required her to quit her education at the American Conservatory Theater, and as she had taken out student loans to complete her degree, she declined the offer.[16] She made her acting debut in the 1998 independent film Surrender Dorothy as Elizabeth Casey, and appeared in various films over the next seven years, including Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Swept Away (2002) and Seabiscuit (2003).[17] Her most notable role up to that point was Betty Brant in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007).

In 2002, Banks set up her own production company, Brownstone Productions, with her future husband, Max Handelman.

Banks gained more prominent widespread exposure with her role in the 2005 comedy film The 40-Year-Old Virgin.[18] In August 2005, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, she starred in William Inge's Bus Stop as Cherie, the aspiring nightclub singer.[19] Jeffrey Borak wrote that Banks' portrayal was acted "with poise, clarity and a shrewd feel for Cherie's complexities. Her performance is all of a piece and in harmony, stylistically, with the performances around her."[20] In 2005, she appeared on the series Stella, and in May 2006, she had a role in the season five finale of the NBC sitcom Scrubs as Dr. Kim Briggs, the love interest of J.D. (Zach Braff). Banks appeared throughout seasons six, seven, and eight as a recurring guest star.[21]

2006–2014: Further success and recognition[edit]

Banks at the Spider-Man 3 premiere in 2007

In 2006, Banks appeared in the American football drama film Invincible, in which she played Mark Wahlberg's love interest. Later, she and co-star Wahlberg were nominated for the "Best Kiss" award at the MTV Movie Awards.[22] That same year, she landed the starring role in the comedy-horror film Slither.[23]

In 2007, Banks played the female lead in the comedy film Meet Bill, alongside Aaron Eckhart and Jessica Alba.[21] That same year, she had a small role as Santa's little helper, Charlyne, in the Christmas comedy film Fred Claus, co-starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. In 2008, she played the ex-wife of Ryan Reynolds’ character and mother to his daughter in the comedy film Definitely, Maybe alongside Isla Fisher and Rachel Weisz,[24] starred with Seth Rogen as the eponymous female lead in the Kevin Smith comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno,[21] and played United States First Lady Laura Bush in W., Oliver Stone's biopic of George W. Bush.[25]

In 2009, Banks appeared in the horror film The Uninvited, a remake of the South Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters.[26] The film was about an intrusive stepmother who makes life miserable for the teen daughters of her new husband. Banks based her character, Rachel, on Rebecca De Mornay's character in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.[27] "It was very important to me that every line reading I gave could be interpreted two ways," says Banks of her role, "So that when you go back through the movie you can see that".[27]

Banks is a frequent co-star of actor Paul Rudd, the two having appeared in five films together to date (Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models, and Our Idiot Brother).[28] She is also a frequent co-star of actor Tobey Maguire, the two having also appeared in five films together (Spider-Man, Seabiscuit, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, and The Details).[29]

Banks was cast as a love interest for Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) in the fourth season of the Emmy Award-winning sitcom 30 Rock.[30] Intended to appear in four episodes in 2010, Banks went on to become a recurring character with 13 appearances by the end of the fifth season, including her marriage in the episode "Mrs. Donaghy". Her performance in season five earned her a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.[31]

Banks at the premiere of What To Expect When You're Expecting in 2012

In 2012, Banks starred in the romantic comedy film What to Expect When You're Expecting and the action film Man on a Ledge. She also starred as Gail Abernathy-McKadden in the musical comedy film Pitch Perfect, which became a critical and commercial success. The next year she directed and starred in separate segments of Movie 43, a critically panned comedy anthology film.[32]

Banks starred in the science fiction adventure film The Hunger Games (2012), playing Effie Trinket, a woman from "The Capitol" who escorts the District 12 tributes to the annual Hunger Games. She went on to reprise the role in the sequel films The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014), and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015).[21] Banks co-starred in the 2014 movie Every Secret Thing, playing Detective Nancy Porter investigating the disappearance of a young child with similarities to a case she had previously been involved with.[33] The same year, she provided the voice of the Master Builder Wyldstyle in the Warner Bros. animated film The Lego Movie.[34]

In 2014, Banks was recognized by Elle Magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film, spanning all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.[35]

2015–present: Directorial debut[edit]

After producing and starring in the film Pitch Perfect (2012), Banks directed its sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), making her feature directorial debut. She also co-produced and starred in both Pitch Perfect 2 and the next sequel, Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).[36]

Banks portrayed Melinda Ledbetter Wilson, the wife of Brian Wilson, in the 2015 biopic Love & Mercy, which is based on the life of the musician and founding member of The Beach Boys, as portrayed by John Cusack.[37]

In 2015, she was named as a member of the Jury for the Main Competition at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. The festival was chaired by Alfonso Cuarón.[38] Also in 2015, Banks became a spokeswoman for Realtor.com in a series of television commercials.[39] In mid-February 2016, Banks appeared in advertisements for clothing company Old Navy.[40] She also played space alien Rita Repulsa in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot film.[41]

Banks speaking at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con

In 2018, Banks co-starred as Jenny in the comedy film The Happytime Murders, alongside Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph.[42] In 2019, she reprised her starring role as Lucy / Wyldstyle in the animated comedy film The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.[43] She then starred as Tori Breyer in the superhero horror film Brightburn.[44]

Banks was a speaker at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, where she promoted The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.[45][46] It was there where, along with co-stars Chris Pratt and Stephanie Beatriz, Banks and the filming team released the film's trailer.[47]

On May 2, 2019, ABC announced Banks as the host of the summer 2019 revival of the game show Press Your Luck, which she also executive produces.[48] Banks directed, produced, wrote, and starred as Bosley in the action comedy film Charlie's Angels, which was released in November 2019.[49] In 2020, she starred as feminist Jill Ruckelshaus in the FX miniseries Mrs. America.[50]

In November 2019, it was announced that Banks was set to star in, direct, and produce a new adaptation of The Invisible Woman (1940), based on her own original story pitch. Erin Cressida Wilson will write the script for the reboot of the female monster, while Max Handelman and Alison Small will serve as producer and executive producer, respectively.[51]

In February 2020, Banks was allowed to pitch for a project by Universal Pictures from the roster of Universal Monsters, ultimately pitching The Invisible Woman.[52] In June 2020, it was announced Banks would star as Ms. Frizzle in a live-action/animated hybrid of The Magic School Bus, which she will also produce through her company Brownstone Productions.[53][54]

In March 2021, it was announced that Banks would direct the thriller film Cocaine Bear, which she produced alongside Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.[55] In May 2021, Peacock announced that Banks would direct and star in the upcoming television series Red Queen, based on the dystopian novel of the same name.[56]

In January 2022, Banks was cast in the film The Beanie Bubble, co-directed by Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash.[57]

In March 2023 it was announced that Banks would executive produce and voice the character Pebbles Flintstone in the upcoming Fox animated prime-time series Bedrock which will be a reboot of the original series The Flintstones and will take place two decades after that series.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Banks during a USO visit at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in 2015

Banks met her husband, Max Handelman, a sportswriter and producer from Portland, Oregon,[59] on her first day of college on September 7, 1992. They were married in 2003 and have two sons, born via surrogacy.[12][60] Banks said that people have criticized her for using a surrogate mother, even though she was unable to carry her own children due to infertility issues. "I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation...If my story helps people feel less alone on their journey, then I'm grateful for that," Banks said in an interview with Porter's Edit.[61]

Banks went through parts of conversion to Judaism, her husband's faith, and studied with rabbis. In 2013, speaking of her religion, she stated that she practices Judaism, though "I did not have my mikveh, so, technically, I'm not converted," but that she has "been essentially a Jew for like 15 years," adding, "Frankly, because I'm already doing everything [practicing religious rituals], I feel like I'm as Jewish as I'm ever going to be."[62][63]


Banks supports gun control[64] and abortion rights.[65]

Banks was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and was involved in a rendition of Rachel Platten's single "Fight Song" with other celebrities at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[66][67] She has stated she is a feminist.[68] In September 2020, Banks urged her Instagram followers to contact VoteRiders to get information and assistance with voter ID.[69] That same month, she used her social media presence to participate in the VoteRiders #IDCheck Challenge to help spread the word about voter ID requirements for the presidential election.[70]


Banks has more than 250 credits to her name within film, television, and video games.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Work Association Category Result Ref.
2003 Seabiscuit Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated [71]
2006 Invincible MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss Nominated [22]
Slither Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Relationship from Hell Nominated
2008 W. Detroit Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Nominated [72]
2009 Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards Face of the Future Award Won [73]
The Uninvited Fright Meter Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2011 30 Rock Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [31]
2012 The Hunger Games MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Transformation Won [74]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Female Scene Stealer Nominated [75]
30 Rock Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [31]
2013 Movie 43 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Won [76]
CinemaCon Excellence in Acting Won [77]
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Transformation Nominated [78]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [79]
Modern Family Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [80]
2014 The Lego Movie BTVA Awards Best Female Lead Vocal Performance Nominated [81]
Best Vocal Ensemble Nominated
BTVA People's Choice Awards Best Female Lead Vocal Performance Won
Best Vocal Ensemble Won
Love & Mercy Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [82]
Austin Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated [83]
Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated [84]
Denver Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Nominated [85]
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Won [86]
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress Nominated [87]
Georgia Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award Won [88]
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated [89]
2015 CinemaCon Breakthrough Filmmaker of the Year Won [90]
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Transformation Won [91]
Modern Family Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [92]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [31]
Pitch Perfect 2 Golden Raspberry Awards Razzie Redeemer Award Nominated [93]
2016 Lego Dimensions BTVA Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game Won
BTVA People's Choice Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game Won
2017 Power Rangers Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Villain Nominated
2020 Hasty Pudding Theatricals Woman of the Year Won [94]


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External links[edit]

Preceded by Host of Press Your Luck
Succeeded by