Elizabeth Banks (born Elizabeth Irene Mitchell) is an American actress. Banks made her film debut in the low-budget independent film Surrender Dorothy.
Banks was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the eldest of four children of Annand Mark P. Mitchell. Her father was a factory worker for General Electric and her mother worked in a bank.
Growing up, she played baseball and rode horses. She then tried out for the school play which was her start in acting. She graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1992, and was a member of the Massachusetts Junior Classical League. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Banks graduated magna cum laude in 1996. In 1998, she completed schooling at the American Conservatory Theater and earned an MFA.
Banks changed her name to avoid confusion with actress Elizabeth Mitchell. She debuted in the 1998 independent film Surrender Dorothy, as Elizabeth Casey, appeared in various films over the next seven years before gaining more prominent widespread exposure through the 2005 comedy film The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
In August 2005, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Banks starred in William Inge's Bus Stop as Cherie, the sexy, blonde, aspiring nightclub singer. 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...." 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. The character appeared throughout seasons six, seven and eight as a recurring guest star.
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 Award. Also that year, she landed the starring role in the comedy-horror film Slither.
In 2007, she played the female lead in the comedy film Meet Bill, alongside Aaron Eckhart and Jessica Alba. Also that year, Banks had a small role in the Christmas comedy film Fred Claus, co-starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. In 2008, she played a love interest in the comedy film Definitely, Maybe, alongside Isla Fisher and Ryan Reynolds, starred with Seth Rogen as the eponymous female lead in the Kevin Smith comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and played United States First Lady Laura Bush in W., Oliver Stone's biopic of George W. Bush.
In 2009, Banks appeared in the thriller The Uninvited, a remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. 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". "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".
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).
Banks was cast as a love interest for Jack Donaghy in the fourth season of the Emmy Award-winning sitcom 30 Rock. Intended to appear in four episodes in 2010, Banks went on to become a recurring character with thirteen 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.
Banks appeared in the movie The Hunger Games, playing Effie Trinket, a woman from "The Capitol" who escorts the District 12 tributes to the Hunger Games.
- Graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta. Was the first in her family to graduate from college.
- Enjoys fantasy football as a hobby.
- Was considered for the role of Susan Storm/Invisible Girl in Fantastic Four (2005), as was Fernanda Romero.
- Wife of Max Handelman. She and her husband work as a production team (Brownstone Productions). They met at the University of Pennsylvania.
- College friends with Todd Lieberman.
- Took a course on flying the trapeze with a girlfriend (2008).
- As a young child, she was a contestant on the Nickelodeon game show "Finders Keepers" (1987).
- Poltergeist (1982) was the scariest movie she has ever seen. She saw it, with her sister, when she was eleven.
- Is a major fan of David Letterman.
- Bad Santa (2003) is her favorite holiday movie.
- Ranked #83 in the 2011 FHM list of "100 Sexiest Women in the World.".
- Has a weakness for cupcakes.
- Ranked #39 in the 2010 FHM UK list of "100 Sexiest Women in the World.".
- Former brownie and girl scout.
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