Before she was a recognizable name, Elizabeth Banks was a familiar face in scene-stealing comic cameos and memorable dramatic roles opposite high-profile actors like Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeff Bridges and Mark Wahlberg. Her fresh-scrubbed New England looks and girl-next-door appeal were refreshingly countered with her adventurous tomboy spirit and fearless embrace of over-the-top goofiness. A stage-trained actress with a fun-loving attitude towards a big screen career, Banks' energy and versatile talent were finally featured front and center in the popular but very different comedies "Slither" (2006) and "Definitely, Maybe" (2008). Prior to those two roles, she gained widespread recognition for playing Betty Brant in "Spider-Man" (2002), which she reprised for the second (2004) and third (2007) installments. After returning to comedy opposite Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti in "Fred Claus" (2007), Banks was surprisingly convincing as former First Lady Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's "W" (2008) and Effie Trinket in the hotly anticipated "The Hunger Games" (2012). Whether comedy or drama, Banks always delivered a quality performance while continually broadening her appeal.
Banks was born Elizabeth Mitchell on Feb. 10, 1974, and raised in the picturesque western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield. Growing up, she was an outdoorsy tomboy who loved riding horses and going to baseball games. She had thoughts of becoming an athlete herself until she broke her leg sliding into third base at a softball game. Looking for something else to do after school, she gave the school play a shot and fell in love with performing. She continued to appear in school productions up until her graduation from Pittsfield High School in 1992, at which point she moved to Philadelphia, earning a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1996. Banks continued her dramatic training at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA, where she earned a graduate degree and garnered extensive stage credits in productions such as "Hurly Burly," "Bethlehem," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "A Woman of No Importance" and "Uncle Vanya," as well as the Guthrie Theater's production of "Summer & Smoke."
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