Elizabeth Banks is, undoubtedly, one of the most sought-after talents in Hollywood – but, when she first started out in her film career, she found that people cared a great deal more about her physical appearance than her acting abilities.
And now, during an impassioned speech at the Women in Film Los Angeles’ Crystal + Lucy Awards, Banks has revealed that one misogynist agent even told her that she needed to get breast implants in order to land a role.
“The first agent I ever met in this industry told me to get a boob job,” she said, according to People.
Banks went on to reveal that these callous words had proven to be emotionally damaging, and they caused her to experience severe self-doubt. However, she couldn’t afford to get the plastic surgery she had been so unceremoniously ordered to undergo – a fact which she is very grateful for now.
“I was so grateful that I didn’t have enough money at the time to follow his advice,” she said. “I also did not sign with him.”
Banks overcame this experience to forge a successful career as an actor, landing star roles in the likes of The Hunger Games and Pitch Perfect. Nowadays, she’s keen to use her clout to help more women shine in Hollywood – and is set to direct a reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which she hopes will boost the representation of women on screen.
However she’s calling upon male directors to help her to achieve this goal – and, in particular, called out Steven Spielberg for failing to do this up until now.
“I went to Indiana Jones and Jaws and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made,” said Banks.
“And by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.”
The AV Club have since pointed out that this isn’t strictly true: Goldie Hawn had top-billing on 1974’s Sugarland Express, young Ruby Barnhill was technically the lead on last year’s The BFG, and Whoopi Goldberg is inarguably the star of The Color Purple.
However there’s no denying that a measly three films across the entirety of Spielberg’s legendary career is pretty dismal (a fact which Juliette Binoche has brought up in the past, too).
Banks had a few words of advice for everyone hoping to see more women on screen – and what she had to say was devastating in its simplicity.
“Buy a f**king ticket to a movie with a woman, take them, give them the experience of seeing amazing women on film.”
The actor concluded her speech by explaining that she and her husband are working together to raise their two sons, Felix, six, and Magnus, four, as feminists.
“I have a great partner in my husband Max Handelman,” Banks said. “We’ve been together 25 years… and he expects [the boys] to want to go see cool movies with really awesome kick ass female leads. I appreciate that very much in helping me shape them into great little feminists.”
And it seems to be working: while her sons are too young to see Wonder Woman, Banks added that “their favourite movie for like, two and a half years, was Frozen”.
“I am so proud that I get to raise my two boys to love women,” she said.
Images: Rex Features