At Sundance, Elizabeth Banks laments lack of comedy roles

05:00 AM, Jan 22, 2014

Elizabeth Banks talks 'Little Accidents' at the Sundance Film Festival. Jason Merritt, Getty Images, for Nintendo/


Written By by Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY

PARK CITY, Utah — Though she’s no stranger to drama, it seems like a shift to see Elizabeth Banks on-screen in the taut blue-collar Sundance Film Festival drama Little Accidents.

She’s spent years dazzling audiences as Hunger Games’ Effie Trinket, 30 Rock’s ultra-conservative TV personality Avery Jessup, and a wry, dried-up commentator in Pitch Perfect.

I haven’t done drama in a while,” Banks says on her last day at Sundance. “I’ll be totally honest with you: I would prefer to be doing comedies. But they’re not making them.”

Banks adds that “it’s really very difficult to find a great role in a comedy, generally — especially for a girl. So this last year, I made three dramas in a row. I didn’t really mean to, but those were the roles that spoke to me and characters that intrigued me and experiences I wanted to have.”

First up is Little Accidents, in which Banks plays the well-heeled, McMansion-dwelling wife of a coal-mine executive (Josh Lucas). Their child goes missing after an accident kills a group of miners, leaving just one survivor (Boyd Holbrook).

I’m from a working-class town that was built around a General Electric factory,” Banks says. “My father worked on the factory floor, and he was never a manager. I really understood the layers to this, and the separation.”

Banks, 39, says she’s “from literally the wrong side of the tracks. I had to cross tracks to get to my high school. You get there, and you start to mix in with children of the families of the managers and the owners. And then there’s a layer of doctors and dentists who service the community. I always knew I was not of that class. So that was a big part of what appealed to me about this story.”

Little Accidents joins a series of blue-collar tales bubbling up in post-recession cinema, including Christian Bale’s recent Out of the Furnace. “There is a sector of America, these working-class guys on whose backs we are building everything,” Banks says. “And we’re not paying attention. We really do forget (about them). These mining accidents happen all the time, and they’re front-page news for a day, and then they’re gone.”

Despite Accident’s heavy theme, there’s fun in store for Banks and her young family while she’s on a short break from filming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. In Park City, the actress has plans to go sledding with sons Magnus and Felix.

I came straight from Atlanta, and I’m going straight back to Atlanta,” she says. “That’s why I spent so much time here, because I brought my kids and my husband. They’re here, too, so it’s fun.”