Self-professed “guy’s girl” Elizabeth Banks swears like a trucker and can talk about her vagina.
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO written and directed by Kevin Smith, with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. An Alliance Films release. 101 minutes. Opens Friday (October 31). For venues and times, see Movies.
Wouldn't Laura Bush be a titillating porn star name?
That's what comes to mind sitting in a hotel room with Elizabeth Banks, a rising star with enough range - and balls - to play the First Lady of the United States in Oliver Stone's W. and the leading lady in Kevin Smith's Zack And Miri Make A Porno.
No longer reduced to bit parts like Betty Brant in the Spider-Man movies, Banks has become a comic mainstay, appearing in everything from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Role Models, which opens next week. But she's not one to be pigeonholed, taking her turns in drama (Seabiscuit), horror (Slither) and romance (Definitely, Maybe).
"I think there's an added responsibility when you're playing a real person," says Banks about her take on Mrs. Bush, "especially one who's alive and whose friends and family can see the movie."
Banks felt obligated to do her research before adopting the Texan drawl of the exiting First Lady. It was probably a relief that such homework wasn't necessary for playing the titular Miri, a Pittsburgh gal who dabbles in porn with Seth Rogen's Zack to pay off her debts.
The actor already had some familiarity with Miri's type. She comes from a working-class family and admits she was already well versed in porn.
"Everyone who says they haven't seen porn is clearly lying," says Banks, sporting a sleeveless white blouse and tight-fitting jeans. She's nursing a popped blister from a hectic night on the town to promote Zack And Miri during TIFF.
"It's a bajillion-dollar industry, so somebody's watching it. I mean 2 Girls 1 Cup flew around the Internet in four seconds, and it's disgusting. But you couldn't not see it."
The no-bullshit Banks has the same frank attitude as many of the characters she plays, particularly the potty-mouthed Miri.
"This is a character who talks the way I talk," she laughs. "I swear like a trucker and I can talk about my vagina."
Banks's down-home and downright raunchy charisma is also what makes her such a nuanced love interest in her many recent films. She prides herself on being a "guy's girl," not unlike Miri and the football aficionado she plays opposite Mark Wahlberg in Invincible.
"I like dude stuff," she says. "I'm an open book about things. I play cards and like going to Vegas."
She's also often the best thing about a movie, which is no small praise for someone who's worked with names like Apatow and Spielberg.
"That's what I do," she laughs. "I bring a little class to these endeavours."
That could be why Banks is appearing in six movies this year alone, risking a different kind of overexposure than her character Miri.
If that work dried up and Banks had to bare it all for Miri's kind of movie?
"My co-stars would be Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt," she says. "It would be a crazy three-way where I would be tied to a bed and they would be pleasuring me the entire time."