The following is a guest post from our friends at Luckymag.com.
Elizabeth Banks and I are not on a trapeze. This is good. I was a bit worried, because flinging herself through the air is Banksâ favorite workout, and she once persuaded some other idiot journalist to go with her. Anyone who â¨sees her in this monthâsÂ Man on a Ledge, for which she did all her own stunts, knows that (a) Elizabeth Banks is fearless and (b) Elizabeth Banks likes heights. I do not. My motto is, Anything to get the storyâwith the possible exception of plummeting to my death.
Fortunately for me, this assignment is forÂ Lucky. Which means that instead of hanging off high wires, weâre at a swank New York hotel with beverages in front of us, talking about style and shopping. Weâre in my territory now, baby!
Banks doesnât seem to share my excitement. Frankly, sheâs exhausted. Not only has she been posing, primping, dressing and stripping at our cover shoot all day but sheâs pretty much been working nonstop for the past year. Best known for stealing scenes in movies and television shows likeÂ The 40-Year-Old Virgin,Â Zack and Miri Make a PornoÂ andÂ 30 Rock, Banks is about to come out with several new films, which will likely launch her into a whole new level of fame. She jetted in yesterday from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where sheâs producingÂ Pitch Perfect, a comedy about the world of competitive a cappella singing; before that she was in Charlotte, North Carolina, filming the hugely anticipatedÂ Hunger Games; before that, it was Atlanta, forÂ What to Expect When Youâre ExpectingÂ with Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz. And throughout it all, sheâs been taking care of a new baby: In March 2011 she and her husband had a son, Felix, via gestational surrogate (her egg, his sperm, another womanâs uterus). Banksâ Halloween tweet:Â I totally rocked my âovertired working momâ costume. Complete with spit-up on shirt and a nap. And somehow, I still made it slutty. [tagbox tag= "The Hunger Games"]
âI am the least looked-after Iâve been in quite some time,â Banks says, with a grin. âNormally for photo shoots I get a full wax, some tanning, a facial. But this time Iâve done nothing.â
Of course, Banksâ ânothingâ is the average personâs âHoly Mother of God, how does she look that good?â She has a face that seems to have a light permanently shining on it, even though weâre practically in the dark. But her princessy exterior masks a quirky individuality; this woman relishes lifeâs absurdities. On her Twitter page she calls herself Elizabeth Banks, Amateur Goofball. And in her role as Effie Trinket in next monthâsÂ Hunger Gamesâbased on the dystopian young adult trilogy that has a cult following ofÂ TwilightÂ proportionsâBanks collaborated with the producer and director to ensure that her character would be uniquely hideous. Playing the upbeat mentor to children who battle to the death on live television, she sports shaved eyebrows, cotton-candy hair and a bleached-white face that emphasizes every wrinkle. And then thereâs Banksâ special contribution, the voice, which sounds like a demented â50s schoolmarm: âItâs based on my heroes, Rosalind Russell inÂ Auntie MameÂ and Katharine Hepburn inÂ The Philadelphia Story.â
Though she says she grew up in a house where the SeptemberÂ VogueÂ was âlike the Bible,â Banks seems considerably happier discussing the books sheâs read (âMichael PollanâsÂ In Defense of FoodÂ changed my lifeâ) than what sheâs wearing (J Brand jeans and a cozy Vince cashmere sweater from Barneys). âI was kind of late to the party,â Banks explains. âI mean, I have always appreciated fashion. But Iâm a girl who loves a bargain. Iâll shop at Forever 21 and H&M.â Online she loves Net-a-Porter and the discount-designer site gilt.com. As long as she doesnât have to pay retail, she says, sheâs there.
Thatâs not to say that she avoids high-end designers. âI love Prada shoes. I cannot get enough of them,â she says. âOr Valentino. I wore gold-studded Valentinos at the shoot todayâthey were amazing. Iâm always impressed by the craftsmanship and beauty of shoes.â
But to shop for anything even remotely outrĂŠ, she says, she needs enablers. âI have friends whoâll come in the dressing room and be, like, âYou need to have Helmut Lang leather jeggings!â âReally, I do?â âYes!â âWell, all right then!âââ
At the moment sheâs in the market for a classic white Chanel jacket. Preferably on sale. A girl can dream.
Prada and Chanel were merely names in magazines when she was growing up, the eldest of four, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Her mother worked for a bank, her father for GE (a happy coincidence that Freud would have enjoyed, given herÂ 30 RockÂ character Avery Jessupâs passion for GE veep Jack Donaghy). She was never really a girly girl. âWe played baseball and fixed cars, because thatâs what Dad liked to do with us,â she says. Fun was âjamming a stick into a beehive and running.â With a mess of frizzy curls and bad acne, she was not cheerleader-perfect. âIâm so glad those photos from the â80s havenât surfaced on the Internet yet!â she says.
Even so, Banks somehow managed to meet her future husbandâwriter and former investment banking analyst Max Handelmanâon her very first day of college. âHe looked like Jason Priestley inÂ 90210, and he was wearing a vest with no shirt underneath, a look that was incredibly cool in the fashion world for about 10 minutes,â she says. Today they run their own production company, Brownstone Productions, and work on scripts together. Their latest sale is a TV show calledÂ Daveâs Dead: âItâs a buddy comedy,â Banks says. âItâs basicallyÂ Two and a Half MenÂ but if Charlie Sheen were dead and constantly in a different body.â
She and Handelman were âmadly in loveâ from the outset, she says, âbut it took a while for it to evolve into, âOh, I guess maybe weâll stay together forever.â You donât start dating someone at 18 and think, Weâre getting married and having babies.â
But thatâs exactly what happened. The getting-married part was great; the baby-making part pretty much blew. The 38-year-old actress is very open about using a surrogate to achieve her dream of being a mother.
âIt was a womb issue for me. Embryos wouldnât implant,â she says. Banks is passionate and grateful about her own surrogacy experience. âItâs a big leap, inviting this person into your life to do this amazing, important thing for you. And itâs hard losing that kind of control. But our surrogate is so extraordinary, and sheâs still in our lives. Sheâs like an auntie.â
Banks beams as she flips open her phone to a photo of baby Felix, resplendent in an adorable blue tracksuit. âThatâs my little dude,â she murmurs. âI hate being away from him for even 10 seconds.â
When Banks projects a decade or so into â¨the future, she sees herself spending more time behind the camera, producing and perhaps even directing movies, than in front of it. And as for thrills? âMy plan is that when Felix is 15, weâll go skydiving together,â she says. âI mean, the guy is fierce and fearless, and Iâm hoping he stays that way. Because I want to be that mom.â Thatâs rightânot the glamour-puss, movie star, beauty icon mother. She gives me a slightly maniacal sidelong glance. âThe one who takes her kid skydiving.â
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