‘Hunger Games’ Brought Elizabeth Banks To Tears

'It's the greatest movie of all time,' actress declares to MTV News.
By Kevin P. Sullivan, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Elizabeth Banks at the "Hunger Games" premiere
Photo: Getty Images

As an enormous fan of "The Hunger Games," Elizabeth Banks got to live out any book lover's dream by starring in the film adaptation. The end result, in Banks' objective opinion, was nothing short of the best movie ever.

"Totally unbiased, as if I was just off the street: It's the greatest movie of all time," she declared. "It's really good."

Banks spoke with MTV News' Josh Horowitz about her emotional experience making the film and the real-life inspiration for her portrayal of Effie Trinket.

Spoilers ahead.

After seeing the completed film, one of the scenes that stuck out for Banks was Rue's funeral, shortly after she's killed in the Games. "I always knew that Rue's funeral would be amazing. I mean, it's one of my favorite parts of the book," Banks said. "I think everybody loves the relationship between Katniss and Rue, and her funeral is exactly how I imagined it, just really beautiful. That she sings to her is amazing, and it's so emotional. It's a five-hanky moment. There's some serious bawling happening by dudes in the theater."

Being a part of the actual filming of the story didn't make watching the final product any less emotional for Banks. Even she couldn't help but shed a few tears. "When watching it, I totally cried. I cried making the movie, seriously," Banks said. "When we were shooting the Reaping, and the very first time Jennifer [Lawrence] came out and said, 'I volunteer. I volunteer.' I think it was rehearsal; we weren't even shooting yet. I was like, 'That's the most amazing thing.' "

As with all adaptations of books, not everything can be as the reader imagines. But Banks said that made "The Hunger Games" even better. "There were a couple things that weren't how I pictured it, but I'm not even sure that I pictured Effie's hair the way Effie's hair ultimately ended up being, but I love everything," she said. "It was better than what I thought. That's what I loved about it. There were a lot of things that were a lot cooler than I thought they'd be."

To bring Effie to life, Banks worked closely with crew to create a truly unique villainess. As it turns out, the secrets to Effie's origins lie in Hollywood history. "I had amazing collaborators, first of all, Gary Ross. Gary said, in his mind's eye, he always imagined Effie's face was like Joel Grey in 'Cabaret.' If you remember, he had really white skin, cracked and messed up, just kind of grotesque," Banks explained. "Because Effie's a villain, we really wanted her to be a little villainous in that way, so that was our jumping-off point."

Similarly, Banks owed the inspiration for Effie's theatrical voice to one of the screen's most iconic leading ladies. "[The voice] was very much inspired by Rosalind Russell's 'Auntie Mame.' I really felt like Effie is everyone's 'Auntie Mame,' just an outrageous person who says all of the wrong things and has all these crazy friends and lives a very extravagant lifestyle that's beyond her," Banks said. "She's one of my favorite performers, and it's one of my favorite performances. She just has that great New York Broadway accent in the film, so that was my jumping-off point for Effie."

Check out everything we've got on "The Hunger Games."

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