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NUNN ON ONE, MOVIES Elizabeth Banks spreads her wings helming 'Charlie's Angels'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Elizabeth Banks wears many hats in the third installment of Charlie's Angels. She acted, directed, produced, and wrote the screenplay in the popular story of women working in a detective agency. The film stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinski as the three new Angels, with Banks, Djimon Hounsou and Patrick Stewart playing multiple Bosleys—Charlie Townsend's assistants.

Many will know Banks' career from The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Lego Movie, Magic Mike XXL and The Hunger Games film series, in which she played the flamboyant Effie Trinket. She made her directorial debut in Pitch Perfect 2.

Television series include Modern Family, Scrubs and 30 Rock, earning two Emmy Award nominations for the latter. She appeared on VH1 with RuPaul and a drag cast for the short promo called Ru's Angels before Charlie's Angels Nov. 15 hits theaters worldwide Friday, Nov. 15.

Windy City Times: Hi, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Banks: Great to hear from Windy City Times. I'm glad that a newspaper that serves the LGBT community is around.

WCT: I appreciated things found in Charlie's Angels for the LGBT community such as having a trans person singing on the soundtrack.

EB: Yes!

WCT: Laverne Cox has been tweeting about the movie and has a cameo.

EB: I've been trying to keep that a secret, but it keeps getting out. I have developed two television shows for her. I was determined to make her a star and she's so talented. I love her so much!

WCT: Can you make us a complete gay film next time?

EB: Alright!

WCT: Was Kristen Stewart's character, Sabina Wilson, flirting with other women intentional?

EB: Absolutely. Kristen and I both agree that we are not interested in labeling anything. One of the more modern ideas we had about these characters was not to put labels on them, to understand that fluidity is modern and to be as open and loving of our entire audience as possible. We wanted them to feel represented in the movie.

It was important to Kristen that her Angel be seen as queer in the movie. I thought that was great.

WCT: I saw Tan France from Queer Eye visited you on the set.

EB: Yes, we had a lot of people come and visit us on the set. He was one of them. Tan and I had a great time hanging out in Istanbul

WCT: The costumes in the film were amazing.

EB: I'm so glad you think so! It was really hard because we wanted the film to feel a little more grounded with real relatable women. I wanted the audience to feel like they could be an Angel. At the same time, I wanted some glamour and fabulousness in the film. There is a nod to iconic Charlie's Angels generations before this one. It showed [the] actresses' personal style and what Charlie would require on any given mission.

WCT: It was like Lady Gaga's closet with all of those sequins.

EB: It was amazing. We had previous costumes from all of the past films in the closet as well. I put little Easter eggs in the closet. For instance, Cameron Diaz's white outfit that she wears before the beginning of the last movie is there. The lederhosen outfits are in the closet. Drew Barrymore's jumpsuit when she drives the race car is in there, also!

WCT: I read up on the costume designer, Kym Barrett, who did your costumes and also many of The Wachowskis' films such as The Matrix.

EB: She's incredible and open to collaborations. I wanted the sparkles so the lights would reflect off of them. She wanted to make them like jewels.

WCT: Was the Sabina name a play off of original TV character Sabrina Duncan?

EB: Yes. I have a lot of love and fandom for all of the Charlie's Angels. I hope people feel me trying honor everything that came before. As a working woman and a feminist, I'm standing on the shoulders of the women that came before me, as these Angels are standing on the shoulders of all the people that came before them.

There are lots of nods to the seventies, including Donna Summer and Chaka Khan. That was a big deal to me. I told Ariana Grande and the soundtrack producers that I wanted a similarly sounding track on the album with the new generation along with the older generation paying homage. I wanted the message to be that women are valuable throughout their entire lives and careers, that we don't throw woman out after they turn 40. I wanted us to recognize the legacy that we are now a part of. I just happen to mention Chaka Khan to Ariana and boom she's on the soundtrack. I don't like to pick favorites, but if I have to, my favorite song is "Nobody" on the soundtrack.

WCT: When I was young, my parents wouldn't let me watch Charlie's Angels on TV because they thought it was dirty.

EB: [Laughs] I think it's because it was women showing skin. It was very revolutionary back then. I think it's important to remember how few women worked in law enforcement in real life, let alone TV. There were no women doing those jobs.

WCT: Did you have to fight for your position with so many male directors?

EB: You overcome the haters and the naysayers like everyone does. There are always people that underestimate me. I feel being underestimated is like having a super power because it means nobody is watching when you come out of the gate.

With this film, people ask me if I directed the action sequences. They think someone else did it. I don't who they think directed the movie, but it was me!

There are just so few role models in this space. I have many. I can point to them. It's not normalized and I know I am a singular person in that I write, direct, act and produce. Not many people do that job.

It's not like no one has ever done this job before that's a woman though. Lucille Ball had one of the biggest TV deals in the history of Hollywood when she had her show on the air on CBS back in the day. Mary Pickford started a studio. There have been women throughout. We have always been met with skepticism.

WCT: It must have been amazing to have the support of the people around you for this project.

EB: It really was. I had so much gratitude every day from my entire cast and crew.

WCT: How was Patrick Stewart? I met him on a red carpet and he was very nice.

EB: He's the most delightful person. He's Sir Patrick Stewart, but he's the most unassuming, grounded guy, and full of gratitude. He doesn't take any of this too seriously. He played the poop emoji in The Emoji Movie. He really gets it!

He's just having fun in this point in life—and why not? I hope I'm working on an as many interesting projects as he does when I am his age. He will be 80 next year.

WCT: Have you had a project that was turning point for you in your career so far?

EB: I hope people will see this movie because maybe Charlie's Angels will be the turning point.

WCT: It is all on you, since you have so many jobs…

EB: I definitely feel the pressure. I feel that this will either be an acceptance or a rejection of Elizabeth Banks as a filmmaker. I love the movie. I think I made a big joyful entertaining movie that delivers on the promise of Charlie's Angels.

WCT: Are you still hosting the revival of the game show Press Your Luck?

EB: Yes. I am filming next year and we are doing more episodes and giving away even more money. I love giving away other people's money to people. It's the most amazing feeling. I want every person that comes on that show to get a million dollars!

WCT: What else are you working on?

EB: Last week I just finished shooting an Hulu series called Mrs. America with Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rose Byrne, Melanie Lynskey, Margo Martindale and Tracey Ullman, who is one of my heroes. I got to work with an incredible all-female cast, that was again a delight. It's new in my life to be doing this. I spent most of my career on sets with men. I had a great time with male co-stars, but going to work with a bunch of women has been wonderful in the last couple of years in my life.

WCT: Sounds like you are changing Hollywood for the better.

EB: Well, thanks. I hope so!

Extended for the online version of Windy City Times

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