Elizabeth Banks on 'Pitch Perfect 3' and Why Women Can Totally Direct Dinosaurs

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  • Elizabeth Banks
    Elizabeth Banks
    American actress

Elizabeth Banks (Photo: Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

Elizabeth Banks is still reeling from the wild success of Pitch Perfect 2, her first major studio directorial effort in which she also stars as Gail, the over-sharing a capella commentator with big hair. “It’s really surreal,” she told Yahoo Movies during a recent phone interview.

The musically inclined comedy sequel, whose ensemble includes Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and Hailee Steinfeld, scored a huge $70 million opening, unexpectedly surpassing its weekend rival Mad Max: Fury Road. To date, Pitch Perfect 2 has made nearly $300 million worldwide, roughly 10 times its $29 million production budget. The film should also be a boon to Banks’s directorial aspirations, as she hit it big with audiences her first time out.

When it came to that astonishing debut, though, Banks revealed to Yahoo it coincided with a difficult time in her life. “It was a weekend with big ups and downs for me,” she said. “I suffered a personal loss the same weekend that the movie opened. I was really just a mess of emotions for about 10 days after the film opened.” Now that time has passed, she admitted, “I still don’t know that I processed it. It was the experience of making the movie and life goes on. Even though I know that it has had an impact for me in the world I’m still, like, getting up and making my kids’ lunch every morning [laughs].”

Watch an Exclusive ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Blu-ray Clip:

While recent reports put Banks back in the director’s chair for a Charlie’s Angels reboot, the actress-filmmaker respectfully declined to comment on any pending deals, including whether she’ll retake the helm for Pitch Perfect 3, set to open July 21, 2017. But Banks is definitely on board to reprise her acting role in PP3, along with Kendrick, Steinfeld, Snow, and Wilson. “We hope we do something as surprising, entertaining, and fulfilling,” Banks said after some prodding.

Banks has now entered small club of female directors who can oversee big blockbusters — films that Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow controversially claimed women aren’t interested in making. When we brought it up, Banks knocked the dino-director for making such a generalization. “I think that women want to tell all kinds of stories, just like men do, and would love the opportunity to be working on a larger scale. I don’t think it takes any special chromosomes to direct dinosaurs.”

Elizabeth Banks on the set of ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ (Photo: Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures via AP)

In making Pitch Perfect 2, Banks recalled how actor-comedian David Cross became the movie’s clutch player, coming in “very last minute” to play the eccentric host of the riff-off singing battle. “I’ve known him for many years and knew that he was going to save my ass with that sequence and really hold it together,” she said, adding that his presence “was great injection of energy… It was by far my favorite week of shooting.” The complex scene, involving dozens of actors — and also some of the Green Bay Packers, who Banks called “the icing on the cake” — “was a giant puzzle,” she added.

By the look of things we’ll be seeing more of Banks behind the camera. “I love telling stories. I like being the boss. That’s fun, too [laughs],” she said, explaining she was drawn to directing because “I was just feeling like I wasn’t getting to tell enough stories and that I was a little underused, and I was a little bored!” But she won’t be hanging up her acting career any time soon. “I never will give that up. I hope to be like [the late] Elaine Stritch on Broadway when I’m 90 and go out after the applause dies down.”

Pitch Perfect 2, packed with tons of aca-awesome extras, is available on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow (Sept. 22).