Once upon a less classy time, Elizabeth Banks was known for comedic roles involving DIY porn and bathtub masturbation. But despite her memorable scenes in hits such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Wet Hot American Summer, hers has never been a household name.
That could change this year. In 2012 alone, Banks has starred in The Hunger Games, one of this year's most highly anticipated films, and takes the lead in People Like Us, opening Friday. The film, which tells the story of a son who must deliver a hefty $150,000 inheritance to a sister he didn't know he had, is a dramatic departure for Banks, who's best known these days for playing Avery Jessup, cunning cable news host and wife of NBC bigwig Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on the NBC show 30 Rock. She's enjoying the new terrain.
"This is much more of a dramedy than a comedy, for sure," Banks says. "I think that anything that deals with family — family dynamics, dysfunction, really relatable things that we all have in our past — has a very emotional center to it that I think is enriching. I loved this character."
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Elizabeth Banks on Comedy, Motherhood, and People Like Us
The themes of family hit home for Banks, who had her son Felix through a surrogate in March 2011. Her character, Frankie, is a mother too. "She is looking for love. She is putting one foot in front of the other. She is just trying to survive and create a safe haven for her child," Banks says. "I related to what she goes through. Being betrayed by someone she lets into her heart — I think a lot of woman can get with that. In the end, it's really about making family as an adult. We don't get to choose our family, but we do choose to like them."