In­tense chal­lenge

El­iz­a­beth Banks has a break­out role in TheNext­Three­Days.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By LEWIS BEALE

EL­IZ­A­BETH Banks’ daz­zling smile, cheery good looks and self-dep­re­cat­ing sense of hu­mour have been light­ing up TV chat shows and movie screens for sev­eral years now.

The 36-year-old Mas­sachusetts na­tive is best known for her comedic chops (cur­rently, she plays Avery, the preg­nant girl­friend of Alec Bald­win’s Jack Don­aghy on 30 Rock), but she has also proven her dra­matic skills in films like W, Se­abis­cuit and In­vin­ci­ble.

In her lat­est, The Next Three Days, open­ing in Malaysian cine­mas to­mor­row, Banks takes on one of her heav­i­est roles yet, play­ing a woman jailed for murder whose hus­band (Rus­sell Crowe) tries to break her out of prison.

Lewis Beale in­ter­viewed the ac­tress via phone while she was driv­ing through Los An­ge­les. A lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly think of you more as a comedic ac­tress, thanks to films like FredClaus, The40-Year-OldVir­gin and Zach AndMir­iMakeAPorno. So why’d you choose this heavy part?

I am a clas­si­cally-trained ac­tress, and I thought it was a meaty role, and I thought that work­ing with (di­rec­tor Paul) Hag­gis and Crowe would be an in­tense chal­lenge, and it was. I knew we wouldn’t walk around the set mak­ing fart jokes, it would be in­tense work. What made you want to be an ac­tress?

The cyn­i­cal an­swer is that I started act­ing and kept at it be­cause peo­ple were pay­ing me to do it. But I loved act­ing as an ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity.

I was very into sports grow­ing up, then I broke my leg slid­ing into third base, and once I did that, I needed some­thing else to do af­ter school, and I started sing­ing and danc­ing in school plays.

I sang in my school choir, and I got a cou­ple of so­los, and I knew I liked that feel­ing of be­ing on­stage. Then, I watched Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and I had such an in­tense feel­ing of jeal­ousy that I was not in­volved with the movie, I had a de­sire to do it. What’s the best ad­vice you got about the busi­ness when you were start­ing out?

I was en­cour­aged by a lot of great cast­ing di­rec­tors who would say you’re not get­ting this job, and the rea­son is, you’re too young, or not fa­mous enough, but don’t take it per­son­ally, you’re good, and I’m gonna bring you back. I knew I had some value, and if I stuck with it I would be OK. How about the worst?

I re­mem­ber when I first met an agent here, I knew he felt I was too skinny, and my boobs were too small. I felt like he was en­cour­ag­ing me to sex it up a lit­tle bit, and that’s not my vibe. You mar­ried your col­lege sweet­heart (Max Han­del­man), who is Jewish, and then con­verted to Ju­daism.

I al­ways liked Jewish boys. My favourite star in high school was Rob Mor­row in North­ern Ex­po­sure. And I’m a huge fan of com­edy, and if you are a fan of com­edy in Amer­ica, you’re a fan of the Jewish peo­ple. You and your hus­band have been to­gether for 16 years. You even formed a pro­duc­tion com­pany that you run to­gether. What’s the se­cret to your re­la­tion­ship?

A good sense of hu­mour and a short me­mory. You can’t hold onto any­thing in a long re­la­tion­ship; the lit­tle things don’t mat­ter. It’s so not worth the en­ergy. We lit­er­ally don’t fight over very much. Why would we ex­pend en­ergy over those mun­dane house­hold is­sues? And the se­cret to work­ing to­gether?

We are re­ally good yin and yang on a lot of lev­els – I bring artis­tic pas­sion, he brings busi­ness savvy. I don’t rec­om­mend ev­ery­one work to­gether; you have to fig­ure if you want to spend all that time with your mate. But we find a good bal­ance, and we have a deep re­spect for each other. You’re a few years away from that dreaded 40, the age a lot of ac­tresses start to worry about the kinds of roles they’ll be of­fered. Where do you see your­self in four or five years?

I feel lucky be­cause I don’t think I’m con­sid­ered a 36-year-old. I look very young. There are a bunch of rom-com things I want to do; I love that genre. I’m hop­ing things will hap­pen to­ward that end. – News­day/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Re­ward­ing: ‘I started act­ing and kept at it be­cause peo­ple were pay­ing me to do it,’ says El­iz­a­beth Banks.

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