Elizabeth Banks Interview ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO

     October 27, 2008



Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub




If you’re going to a movie theater anytime soon, chances are you’ll see Elizabeth Banks acting in your film. The reason? She’s currently in Kevin Smith’s new movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Oliver Stone’s W., and the soon to be released comedy Role Models. As you can see…her career has really taken off.



Anyway, I was recently able to participate in a roundtable interview with Elizabeth for Zack and Miri Make a Porno and the transcript is below.



During our 20 or so minutes, we talked about all the movies she’s involved in, what she has coming up, and we even talked about a big sci-fi movie arriving in 2009 called The Surrogates. It ends up she’s part of Brownstone Productions and they produced the film. So even though she isn’t in it…I managed to get a bunch of info on the movie.



If you’re a fan of Elizabeth, you’ll really enjoy the interview. As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. Finally, you can watch some movie clips from Zack and Miri by clicking here.



Zack and Miri Make a Porno gets released this weekend.




Question: Is there a movie in Hollywood that you’re not in right now?



Banks: ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua‘.



You passed on that?



Banks: They overlooked me for that and my friend made it too. I can’t believe it.



Is every actress in Hollywood out for your hide right now because you’re getting all these great roles?



Banks: No. You have to remember that these were very spread out when I made them. They’re just oddly coming out all at the same time.



You’re in ‘Role Models’, this and ‘W.’ and they’re all coming out within a month of each other.



Banks: Yeah, and they’re all coming out also in the exact opposite order in which I shot them. So it’s like the smallest role last which is pretty funny.



What was the experience like compared to how you thought of the film?



Banks: I had no expectations of what it was going to be like. I try to never have any expectations. Hollywood will beat expectations out of you after about three jobs. So I knew – I will say this – that Seth and I would get along gangbusters because we always have and I knew that we would improvise a lot which we did. I knew that Kevin [Smith] would be amazing to be around which he is. He just runs a really friendly and relaxed set full of his friends and has everyone that makes him comfortable around. So I knew all of that was going to work. I knew that it was going to be really fucking cold in Pittsburgh and it was. What else did I know? Other than that I didn’t know much. I knew we were making a really funny movie. It’s actually funnier than I realized.



The sex scene in the movie is really powerful. What’s your motivation in that scene?



Banks: Make love. I was really excited for Seth to appear as a true romantic leading man because I think he’s never played that before. He was the lead man in ‘Knocked Up’, but you never really thought that Katherine Heigl was going to jump over the moon for that guy. I wanted it to seem like we were made for each other and truly, truly in love.



Even as far as watching other actors in sex scenes you can tell it’s fake and you two got through that barrier.



Banks: Seth and I, we adore each other on a lot of levels and so I think there was a lot of relief that it went as well as it did and that it was over quickly [Laughs].



How did you guys integrate your improv style in a Kevin Smith film where a lot of the comedy is already worked out?



Banks: Well, he wrote an amazing script. He really indulged us because frankly he’s editing the movies and he could’ve taken out anything that he wanted to. You integrate it very organically. You shoot what’s on the page and then you just go from there and you have to stay in the moment and you have to stay in character. The improv has to make sense for what we’re talking about and doing and some of it just flowed from starting to go up on your line and you’d make something up. Some of it flows from the fact that by the fourth take of saying the same joke it starts to feel not as fresh. So to freshen it up and get back into the moment and feel more present you start running with it.



Did you go to your own high school reunion and were there any surprises?



Banks: I went to my five year high school reunion which did in fact happen on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. So that was totally real to me. There was nothing particularly surprising. The guy that everyone thought was gay was gay. The guy everyone thought was going to go bald early was bald. Some girls got fat. It was pretty much par for the course.



Will you go to your twenty or twenty five?



Banks: I will never go to another reunion. It’s not going to happen.



Why not?



Banks: Everyone I want to see from high school I already see.



Were you already somewhat of a recognizable name at that first reunion?



Banks: Yeah. I had done commercials.



Did they treat you differently at all because of that?



Banks: No, not really. It would be terrible now. I wouldn’t want to go now.



How did you guys establish that this wasn’t a usual Hollywood romantic comedy at the beginning of the movie?



Banks: I think it’s built into the script, that the turning point is when they’re doing it and they think it’s just going to be fucking and that’s all we talk about. It’s just going to be fucking and it’s not going to mean anything and then you get there and you make love and it does mean something. So it was kind of one of those situations where it didn’t meant anything until it did. I personally think that we present a very realistic couple onscreen for the entire movie. We just hadn’t had sex until we did. So to me the idea of them just peeing in front of each other and making coffee for each other and paling around and driving each other to work, those are all things that regular couples do, couples who have already admitted that they’re in love. So I don’t know. It just flowed very naturally from that.



You shot ‘W.’ at the beginning of May and it’s already coming out. That’s one of the quickest turnarounds ever.



Banks: Totally.



Have you been happy with the response from the critics?



Banks: I’m ecstatic about it, yeah. I think the performances in the film are amazing and they’ve been getting a lot of great attention. I’m really proud of what I did in the movie. I didn’t believe that it was going to come out this fast and I’m super impressed that it did. So, yeah, and we just had a great opening weekend. I’m very excited for Oliver [Stone] and Josh [Brolin].



Do you think that you’ll ever hear if Laura Bush saw the movie and what she thought about your portrayal?



Banks: I don’t know. I really can’t imagine the surreal circumstance of someone making a movie about your life. I don’t know if you want to see that or if you want to run as far as you can from that. I think it would just be so odd. So if she sees it I would consider her very brave.



If you could ask her one question out of curiosity what would you want to know?



Banks: I would want to know if she really supports the war. Let me put it this way, any question I would ask her I would not expect an actual realistic response.



Can you talk about the ratings controversy on this?



Banks: You mean the controversy that the media keeps talking about because I keep getting asked about it? That controversy? [Laughs] I think there are much bigger problems in our world today than the word porno. I think if you have a problem explaining to your seven year old that porno is for adults just like the TV that you don’t let them watch after nine o’clock, just like the food that you don’t let them eat, just like the beer that you don’t let them drink, just like the cigarettes that you don’t let them smoke you’re a fucking idiot. I just don’t understand how it’s any different from any of those things. ‘Hey, kid, it’s not for you.’ That’s it.



I read that you’re executive producer on ‘The Surrogates’.



Banks: That’s correct.



You are?



Banks: Yes [Laughs]. I have a company called Brownstone Productions. I produce movies with my husband Max [Handelman]. He has an amazing eye for material and he found the graphic novel that ‘Surrogates’ is based on. We developed it and sold it to Disney. We made it with Jonathan Mostow, directing Bruce Willis. It comes out in September of ’09 and it’s awesome. We have a bunch of other movies setup as well. I’m hoping that the next movie that will go into production is a movie called ‘Expedition Six’, currently called that which is the story of the astronauts stranded on the international space station when the Columbia Shuttle exploded. It’s a big all American action adventure movie. It’s going to have a big director and some big star will be in it and I might or might not be in it. We just have a really burgeoning business. We’re also developing comedies. We have a great comedy called ‘Pitch Perfect’ which is based on the world of collegiate acapela singing. It’s sort of ‘Bring it On’ in the world of acapela singing and a couple of other things. So we’re developing like crazy.



Were you and your husband romantically involved when you first met or were you friends first?



Banks: We were never friends. We were just romantically linked from the get go.



What made you not want to be in ‘Surrogates’ or was that Jonathan’s choice?



Banks: Certainly it was always Jonathan’s choice, but it was never my goal to be in the movie. My goal was just to produce the movie. So if he had said, ‘Hey, it’d be really easy for you to be in the movie –’ I don’t know that I would even said yes. I don’t want to be perceived as an actress with a vanity project. I really want to be perceived as a legitimate producer and I think one of the best ways to do that is to not act in the movies you’re producing.



That film is really sci-fi.



Banks: It is super sci-fi, yeah.



Does it have that ‘Blade Runner’ style?



Banks: Yeah, it does. It’s pretty kick ass. Jonathan did ‘Terminator III’. It’s got some great action sequences, but it’s really more of an allegory about our times that we’re living in and just the extension of technology. It’s a world in which people essentially live their lives via surrogates. It’s like you go to the bank now and you don’t talk to a person. You use a machine. This is machine using machines at all times. No one leaves their house because of the global warming and it’s dangerous and there’s terrorists and it’s this world gone mad. We’ve created this environment where there is no danger because you’re surrogate can do anything. If you’re surrogate gets run over by a car no one dies. You’re surrogate is like you’re car getting ruined. So you’re surrogate is almost like what your cell phone is right now, you’re access to everything else in the world. That’s what the movie is about and it’s crazy.



Are you going to test screen the film and when you do that what are you looking for?



Banks: I’m sure we’ll test screen it. We’re very early. We just wrapped it at the end of August. So we’re just in post and we’re doing all of the special FX right now and the big producer’s cut of the movie won’t be delivered until the end of December. I haven’t seen the whole movie. I’ve seen dailies upon dailies and we just cut together an awesome trailer that’s very exciting that Disney showed to their exhibitors which was very exciting.



And you are acting in ‘The Uninvited’ and ‘The H-Cometh’?



Banks: ‘H-Man Cometh’ is an IMDB myth. That was a movie that is no longer a movie. ‘Uninvited’ is real and comes out in January. It’s a DreamWorks picture from the guys who did ‘Disturbia’ and ‘The Ring’ and it’s based on the Korean horror film ‘The Tale of Two Sisters’. I play sort of the evil stepmother in the most simple terms.



Was that fun?



Banks: It was super fun. I based the character on Rebecca De Mornay in ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle’.



Do you miss Dunkin’ Donuts since you’re from Massachusetts?



Banks: I didn’t drink coffee and still don’t. I’m a tea drinker which sounds so pathetic. I can appreciate a great Dunkin’ Donut and the thing that I miss the most are the Munchkins which are the donut holes. That’s what I miss the most. I also miss cider donuts which we don’t have out here.



How much do you enjoy the increasingly varied roles you’re doing?



Banks: I enjoy it very much. It’s pretty exciting to be able to go in any direction. I assume my representatives are very excited about that, that they can pitch me for all different things and people don’t think that they’re crazy. I have no expectations for what’s going to happen in the future. I enjoy making comedies a lot. If I had to guess what my next movie was going to be I’d say it’s probably going to be a comedy.



Of all the characters that you’ve played who do you think would make the best Halloween costume?



Banks: I loved Lindsay from ‘Wet Hot American Summer’. I think she’s great and a lot of kids dress up like her already. It’s a fabulous costume.



For this film did Kevin ask you to do research or ask if you’d seen any porno?



Banks: Nope. He didn’t ask. I don’t remember if he asked. I mean, we had discussions about it. It was clear that I was knowledgeable enough. I was not a total novice. I really rely on him and Seth’s encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. Making porn isn’t for rocket scientists. It’s not exactly hard to do. It’s fairly easy. We didn’t really talk about it at all and we didn’t want to be good at it. We wanted to be really bad at it. So I kind of didn’t want to know anything about it.



How excited were they about the merging of porn and ‘Star Wars’?


Banks: I think that Kevin had a boner the entire day.





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