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Elizabeth Banks on Comedy, Family, and Great Genetics

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The Effervescent Ms. Banks

Dynamic actor-producer-director and Listerine spokesperson Elizabeth Banks keeps delighting the Hollywood crowd while keeping life solid and happy at home.

BY Anne Garzouzie PHOTOGRAPH by James White/Corbis Outline

It took Elizabeth Banks—the irresistible and quick-witted blonde knockout from Pittsfield, MA, who is arguably the most likable on-screen personality working today—just three years to get noticed in a big way after completing her training at the American Conservatory Theater. Anyone remotely clued into the goings on in Tinseltown will have noticed Banks’ rising star, which has only gotten brighter since she appeared in 2003’s Seabiscuit. Subsequent turns in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wet Hot American Summer, Invincible, Role Models, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Uninvited, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Lego Movie, and (of course) The Hunger Games movies have proven her mass appeal, time and time again.
New You: You handle comedy with great aplomb and humor. What’s the secret?
Elizabeth Banks: Comedy requires that you understand as much as possible about the viewpoints of all people and everything that’s going on around you. It genuinely requires a true point of view, a real sense of your own view of things in the world. Comedy often comes at the expense of others, and to do that smartly, you don’t want to make fun of vulnerable people. You want to make fun of people in power, and so you need to really understand the dynamics of power.

NY: How do you balance family with your busy acting schedule?
EB: I balance it by always putting my children’s health and safety first. Then I feel OK to go and do the job I love. It’s important to remember that I face the same challenges as many other working parents out there. I don’t think dads do it as well as moms, quite frankly, as I don’t think there’s any pressure on them to balance anything in their lives when it comes to parents being at work. I try not to feel that pressure, either. I actually have a girlfriend who works in the justice department, going after criminals and the mafia, and she’s got three kids. Parenting is challenging any way you slice it.

NY: Pretty girls don’t often work on their funny side but you straddle both sides with ease.
EB: Your funny gets developed pretty early on. I didn’t quite believe I was pretty for a long time. I never thought about it. I’m very genetically blessed, I cannot deny it, but I work hard at keeping myself together. Yes, I have nice cheekbones and skinny legs but I can’t take any credit for it.

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