Banks and Hoffman in ‘The Hunger Games’ (Lionsgate)
Elizabeth Banks has already watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, and there’s one part of the beloved series’ final chapter that moved her the most.
“The most emotional thing about seeing the movie is seeing Phil, seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman again,” Banks told us this weekend while doing a round of publicity for her acclaimed drama Love & Mercy. “And just being taken right back to that whole experience and just being reminded of that tragedy.”
Hoffman, who plays Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, died from a drug overdose on Super Bowl Sunday in 2014 at age 46. The actor had one week of filming to complete on Mockingjay – Part 2, having already finished his scenes in Part 1 (the finales were shot back-to-back). Director Francis Lawrence refused to use CGI or a stand-in for Hoffman’s remaining scenes and instead rewrote the script to give Hoffman’s lines to other actors.
Though Banks wouldn’t reveal anything specific about Hoffman’s performance in the film, her early review of the franchise’s swan song promises fans will be fully pleased: “The movie is beautiful, wonderful, a great conclusion, true to the book,” said the actress, who plays Effie Trinket, the glammed-out escort to Jennifer Lawrence’s rebellion leader Katniss Everdeen. “It comes to a satisfying close.”
With Mockingjay – Part 2 still to come, Banks has already enjoyed a stellar year. She directed the box-office smash Pitch Perfect 2 (while also reprising her role as acapella announcer Gail), had a small role in another sequel Magic Mike XXL, can now be binge-watched on Netflix’s small screen spin-off Wet Hot American Summer, and on top of that all is currently generating awards buzz for her touching role as Melinda Ledbetter in the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy opposite John Cusack and Paul Dano, who both play the iconic Beach Boys singer-songwriter at different phases of his life. (Coincidentally, Love & Mercy director Bill Pohlad had initially considered casting Hoffman as Wilson in a third segment.)
Banks in 'Love and Mercy’ (Roadside Attractions)
“This year was so much about directing for me, with Pitch Perfect 2, so to have a movie remind everybody that I’m also an actor is nice,” Banks said with a laugh about the acclaim she’s received for Love & Mercy, not to mention recent shout-outs from friends and fellow actors like Jane Fonda and Kate Walsh. “That I had a career for 15 years before directing Pitch Perfect 2.”
Banks said she’d be lying if she didn’t cop to paying attention to the awards chatter around her role. “It’s never defined my life as an actor, and I hope it won’t define my life as an actor,” she told us. “But anyone who says they don’t want the cheese is lying.”
“Amy Poehler calls awards 'cheese.’ I’m stealing that from Amy Poehler. But I wouldn’t mind some cheese, sure.”
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opens Nov. 20. Love & Mercy is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and video-on-demand.
Watch the trailer for 'Love and Mercy’: