10 February 1974
Place of Birth
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA
Elizabeth Maresal Mitchell
5′ 4½” (1.64 m)
Banks was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and grew up on Brown Street, the eldest of four children of Ann (née Wallace) and Mark P. Mitchell. Her father was a factory worker for General Electric and her mother worked in a bank. She has Irish and English ancestry, and was raised both a Catholic and Protestant.
Growing up, she played baseball and rode horses. She was in little league when she broke her leg sliding into third. She then tried out for the school play which was her start in acting. She graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1992, and is a member of the Massachusetts Junior Classical League. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Banks graduated magna cum laude in 1996 with a major in communications and a concentration in theater arts. In 1998, she completed schooling at the American Conservatory Theater and earned an MFA.
– I really think that we do a disservice to young people in America by not being more open about sex. Abstinence programs do not work. It’s a natural, physical thing having sex.
– I’m pleased that Hollywood hasn’t figured out how to pigeonhole me yet…”
– I love physical comedy. I love Oscar Wilde, I love [William Shakespeare] comedies, I love improv. I knew I had a knack for it at a certain level, but I came into this business as a classically trained drama student and that was my reputation. When you live in a leading lady’s body, which I do, you have to constantly prove that you are funny.
– Every once in a while I play a true idiot, and they’re really fun to play.
– [in 2013, on going through the process of converting to her husband’s religion, Judaism] I did not have my mikveh, so technically I’m not converted . . . I’ve been essentially a Jew for like 15 years . . . I haven’t had a Christmas tree in 15 years . . . My kids go to Jewish pre-school, we only celebrate Jewish holidays, I love seder . . . Frankly, because I’m already doing everything, I feel like I’m as Jewish as I’m ever going to be.
– Graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta. Was the first in her family to graduate from college.
– Graduated from American Conservatory Theater’s Advanced Training Program in 1998.
– Enjoys fantasy football as a hobby.
– Was considered for the role of Susan Storm/Invisible Girl in Fantastic Four (2005), as was Fernanda Romero.
– Wife of Max Handelman. She and her husband work as a production team (Brownstone Productions). They met at the University of Pennsylvania.
– College friends with Todd Lieberman.
– Oldest of four children in a divided house. (Her mom was for the Boston Red Sox and her dad was for the New York Yankees.).
– She went through parts of the process of conversion to Judaism when marrying her husband.
– Met President George W. Bush when Seabiscuit (2003) was screened at the White House.
– In Oliver Stone’s W. (2008), she plays the role of Laura Bush, the president’s wife.
– Taking a course on flying the trapeze with a girlfriend (2008).
– Her father, Mark Mitchell, was a factory worker for General Electric and her mother, Ann Mitchell, worked, until recently, in a bank.
– Former Brownie and Girl Scout.
– Graduated from Pittsfield (Massachusetts) High School in 1992.
– Poltergeist (1982) was the scariest movie she has ever seen. She saw it, with her sister, when she was eleven.
– Is a major fan of David Letterman.
– Turned down a role in The Crazies (2010) because the role was too similar to her character in Slither (2006), and she didn’t want to repeat herself.
– Got the role in Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) after Rosario Dawson turned it down.
– Bad Santa (2003) is her favorite holiday movie.
– Ranked #83 in the 2011 FHM list of “100 Sexiest Women in the World.”.
– Has a brother named Geoff.
– Has a weakness for cupcakes.
– Ranked #39 in the 2010 FHM UK list of “100 Sexiest Women in the World.”.
– In a 2012 interview with Slate, she said that she considered her role in the 1998 independent movie, Surrender Dorothy (1998), to be one of the worst mistakes in her career, so far. She also said that it was instrumental in her decision to attend drama school, so that she could receive training that would enable her never to have to be in this type of movie, again.
– Returned to work 2 months after the birth of her son Felix in order to begin filming The Hunger Games (2012).
– In 2012, she threw her support behind President Barack Obama in a highly personal video testimonial on the importance of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
– Became a mother for the 1st time at age 37, when her son, Felix Handelman, was born in March 2011 via surrogate. Child’s father is her husband, Max Handelman.
– Became a mother for the 2nd time at age 38, when her son, Magnus Mitchell Handelman, was born–via surrogate–in November 2012, via surrogate. Child’s father is her husband, Max Handelman.
– Her ancestry includes English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.
– Appeared in a commercial for L’Oreal Paris “Preference”.