The sexy young actress is a rising star, gaining experience and popularity in small roles on major movies such as "Spider Man", "Spider Man 2" and "Catch Me If You Can." Elizabeth Banks' onscreen career has been steadily rising since the up-and-coming actress won the Young Hollywood Award for "Exciting New Face" back in 2003. With roles in such notable Hollywood hits as the Spider-Man films and Seabiscuit, Banks has not only had the pleasure of sharing the screen with hot-property actor Tobey Maguire multiple times, but has also been nominated -- alongside Maguire, Jeff Bridges, William H. Macy, and Gary Stevens -- for an "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture" award by the Screen Actors Guild for her performance in the latter. The Pittsfield, MA, native got her first taste of fame when nominated Harvest Queen in her hometown's annual fall celebration, and in the years that followed, Banks would receive her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and go on to pursue her graduate degree at the American Conservatory Theater. In 1998, Banks made her feature debut in the controversial addiction drama Surrender Dorothy, with subsequent small-screen roles in Third Watch and Sex and the City only serving to raise her rapidly growing profile in film and television. Of course, a move from New York to Los Angeles also may have had something to due with her landing more film roles, and though she would appear under her real name, Elizabeth Mitchell, in the 2000 action thriller Shaft, she soon had to change her name to avoid conflict with another actress who had already established a career using the the same name. Undaunted by the name change, Banks forged on with roles in the cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer and the romantic drama Ordinary Sinner in 2001, with a supporting performance as Betty Brant in the 2002 box-office smash Spider-Man providing her most substantial onscreen performance to date. With roles opposite Madonna in Swept Away and Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can, it was obvious that Banks' career was on the rise, but it was her winning performance in Seabiscuit that truly put her on the map. Though the Screen Actors Guild award that the she and the cast were nominated for would ultimately go to the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, it was obvious to all who had been following her career that Banks was only at the beginning of her Hollywood ascent. In 2003, Banks appeared in the drama The Trade before reprising her role as Betty Brant for Spider-Man 2, and with increasingly prominent roles in Heights, The Sisters, and The Baxter scheduled through 2005, audiences could rest assured that they would be seeing plenty more of Banks in the years to come. Banks was born on February 10, 1975, in Massachusetts, USA.
More fun facts about Elizabeth Banks
Birth name: Elizabeth Maresal Mitchell
Spouse: Max Handelman (5 July 2003 - present)
Graduated Magna Cum Laude, University of Pennsylvania
Graduated from American Conservatory Theater's Advanced Training Program in 1998.
Elizabeth Banks Talks About "Seabiscuit"
The real Marcela Howard, second wife of Seabiscuit's owner, was strong, confident, a fearless adventurer, and responsible for bringing Charles Howard back from the depths of despair. Her love breathed new life into Charles after the death of his young son and the break-up of his first marriage.
Executive producer Robin Bissell believes Elizabeth Banks has the beauty and qualities of an old-time movie star, the type of qualities the real Marcela Howard possessed. "We read a lot of people for Marcela. Elizabeth came in and we read the last scene in the movie between her and Jeff Bridges, which is with the child's game. She brought something so real to it, and it hammered us in the room," recalled Bissell.
ELIZABETH BANKS ('Marcela Howard')
Do you share any characteristics with Marcela?
Yes. I mean, she's really outspoken. She was very sassy. I think that's the main thing I wanted to bring to her was a sense of sass and intelligence, and the main thing being that she had a partnership with her husband. She's not behind the scenes in any way, but never really upstaged him. She knew her role. We played her half Katherine Hepburn, half Eleanor Roosevelt.
Were you able to find out anything about the real Mrs. Howard?
Yes, she didn't pass away until 1987. A lot of the material that was used to write the book by Laura Hillenbrand comes from Marcela's diaries and her scrapbooks and her photos. I had access to a lot of that information.
How did the costumes help you get into character?
I really thought Marcela lived in those hats and those gloves, and all the accessories. It was really fun and beautiful.
Do you have any experience with horses?
Yes, I grew up riding horses. I grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts. There were lots of farms and I grew up riding my whole life.
Did you enjoy getting to ride?
I loved getting on the horse and I loved that we got to go fast, that's the main thing. I'm over sort of trotting on the trail. It was very exciting to get up to top speed.
So you did your own riding in the movie?
That was me. I'm very proud to say I did all my own riding in the movie.
What are you doing in Spider-Man 2?
I reprise my role as Betty Brant. Other than that I can't say anything about the movie, sorry!
Elizabeth Banks: Sailing into the movie business, on a yacht with madonna no less
"When I was in college I was accused of being a goody two-shoes," says 28-year-old Elizabeth Banks, former Harvest Queen from the western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield. "But," she adds, "every goody two-shoes has a bad side."
Case in point: The actress' earliest gigs were on TV's Sex and the City and Law & Order, where she played a porn star/murderer. A move from New York to Los Angeles soon followed, as did a hot streak--three smallish parts in three biggish films, starting with this month's hotly anticipated Spider-Man. As Betty Brant, a secretary at the Daily Bugle, the newspaper where Spider-Man's alter ego works as a photographer, she shared no onscreen time with the hero in his form-fitting costume, but saw plenty of it on the set. "Tobey [Maguire] really fills out that suit," she explains.
Banks' other buzzed-about projects, to follow later this year, are Guy Ritchie's Swept Away--a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 classic--starring Madonna, and Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as a world-class con artist. Of the Ritchie film, which required Banks to spend a week on a boat off the coast of Malta, she says, "If I ever complain about yachting around the Mediterranean with Madonna, who I just idolized as a child, I should be slapped across the face!"
Elizabeth Banks Back as Betty Brant
Spidey actress to reprise her role for sequel.
The Boston Herald reports that Massachusetts-born actress Elizabeth Banks will be reprising her role of Daily Bugle employee (and Peter Parker's potential love interest) "Betty Brant" for Spider-Man 2 (a.k.a. The Amazing Spider-Man). No word on how extensive her part will be this time out; Betty Brant was a glorified cameo in the last film. Banks, whom the Herald claims is a descendant of American statesman Daniel Webster, is also portraying Jeff Bridges' wife in another Tobey Maguire starrer, Seabiscuit.
Banks most recently appeared in Catch Me If You Can as the bank teller that Leonardo DiCaprio seduces into buying a steak dinner (she unwittingly explains to him how he can better forge a check).
Meanwhile, the original Spider-Man recently tied with Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for "Favorite Motion Picture" at the 29th Annual People's Choice Awards.
Elizabeth Banks plays in 'Ordinary Sinner'
''Ordinary Sinner,'' a high-minded independent feature that opens today in Manhattan, deals with gigantic themes like faith, sexuality, friendship and death: a cosmic-size cud for this tiny film to chew over.
Directed by John Henry Davis, a longtime teacher of cinema and theater at La Guardia Community College in Queens, ''Ordinary Sinner'' describes the ominously intense relationship among three people in their early 20's. Peter (Brendan P. Hines) has dropped out of an Episcopal seminary and moved to a small college town in Vermont, where his shy, stumbling childhood friend Alex (Kris Park) is going to college. Alex introduces Peter to Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), an attractive anthropology major on whom Alex has a crush.
But Rachel is more interested in the emotionally damaged, sexually inexperienced Peter. Dropping by the shack he has appropriated as a home, she quickly and aggressively seduces him. Later, watching Rachel and Peter entwined, Alex clumsily tries to insert himself into the embrace and is humiliatingly rebuffed.
This three-way relationship, tense as it is with envy and desire, might have served as the premise for a film all by itself (as it already has, in outline at least, in the Noël Coward-Ernst Lubitsch comedy ''Design for Living'' and François Truffaut's ''Jules and Jim''). But Mr. Davis and the screenwriter, William Mahone (who is also the executive producer), pile on quite a few other concerns.
Peter's faith has failed because he was unable to prevent a troubled gay teenager he was counseling at the seminary from killing a gay-bashing attacker. Though Peter feels his life has become hollow and meaningless, he still maintains his close friendship with the Episcopal minister he calls Father Ed (A. Martinez), who first convinced him that he should enter the seminary and who conveniently lives in the same New England village as Alex and Rachel.
At the same time, a wave of gay-bashing incidents is washing across the campus, apparently tied to what one character describes as ''a radical Christian cell,'' led by the sinister owner of the local garage. When a close friend of one of the three protagonists is killed, they pull together to uncover the murderer.
Mr. Davis has a lot of ideas, but when it comes to dramatizing them, he is unable to give them an engaging form. There is a lot of speechmaking in ''Ordinary Sinner'' as the characters turn to one another to deliver long-winded disquisitions on the death of God, the importance of tolerance or the relative virtues of meatloaf and tacos. By grafting his speeches to a standard whodunit plot, Mr. Davis trivializes the grand themes he means to present, reducing them to plot elements in a painfully familiar formula. If there's a God of this universe, he's a tired television writer relying on faded clichés, not the subtle, elusive entity the filmmakers want him to be.