Elizabeth Banks (born February 10, 1974) is an American actress, producer, and director. Banks made her film debut in the low-budget independent film Surrender Dorothy (1998), and is known for her roles in such films as Wet Hot American Summer, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002–07), Seabiscuit (2003), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Role Models (2008), The Next Three Days (2010), Pitch Perfect (2012), The Lego Movie (2014), and The Hunger Games films (2012–15). In 2014, she portrayed Melinda Ledbetter, the girlfriend and later wife of the Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, in Bill Pohlad’s film Love & Mercy and made her directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, whose May 15–17 $69M opening weekend gross set a record for a first-time director.
On television, Banks had a recurring role as Avery Jessup on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, which gained her two Emmy Award nominations. She also had recurring roles on Scrubs and Modern Family. In 2015, she reprised her role as Lindsay for the Netflix miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
Banks changed her name to avoid confusion with actress Elizabeth Mitchell. After auditioning in New York, she was offered a role on the soap opera Santa Barbara. Taking the role would have required her to quit her education at the American Conservatory Theatre, and Banks ultimately decided to forgo the offer due to having taken out student loans to complete her degree. She made her acting debut in the 1998 independent film Surrender Dorothy, as Elizabeth Casey, and appeared in various films over the next seven years including Guy Ritchie’s Swept Away before gaining more prominent widespread exposure through the 2005 comedy film The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
In August 2005, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Banks starred in William Inge’s Bus Stop as Cherie, the sexy, blonde, aspiring nightclub singer. Jeffrey Borak wrote that Banks’ portrayal was acted “with poise, clarity and a shrewd feel for Cherie’s complexities.