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Elizabeth Banks on Porn: “I Think Jenna Haze Has a Big Career Ahead of Her”

[Timeout Chicago]- To cap off our sex issue, we caught up with rising-star Elizabeth Banks, who plays a down-on-her-luck twentysomething making a porno with a platonic friend (Seth Rogen) in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Time Out Chicago: The spoof of Sarah Silverman’s “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” with you singing “I’m Fucking Seth Rogen”—your idea?

Elizabeth Banks: It was my husband’s idea. [Laughs] You can go to quickstopentertainment.com and see these little behind-the-scenes movies Kevin put together. My husband was like, “You know what would be funny is if you spoof that. Only instead of you wanting to fuck him, you’re really upset you have to fuck him.”

TOC: Speaking of: With Knocked Up, people said someone who looked like Katherine Heigl would never hook up with someone who looked like Seth Rogen. In Zack and Miri, Rogen again gets the pretty woman. So what’s that—just male fantasy?

Elizabeth Banks: I think Seth’s really attractive and funny and he can get any woman he wants. I’ve seen his girlfriend, and he’s a lucky man. What that statement really means is that girls who are not traditionally pretty have a much harder time getting cast than ugly guys. That’s a statement about a male-dominated industry.

TOC: So the guys, it doesn’t matter what they look like.

Elizabeth Banks: Yeah, but in general, it doesn’t matter. I think women are less interested in how a guy looks and more interested in: Does he make me laugh? Is he intelligent? Is he respectful and caring? Whereas guys’ initial response to women is almost entirely physical.

TOC: If you weren’t married, you’d date somebody who looks like Rogen?

Elizabeth Banks: Um, well, I would certainly—look, I get hit on by guys who are not Adonises, and as long as they make me laugh and there’s some sort of spark there, sure.

TOC: any women aren’t so hot on porn’s depictions of women, but you’d never know that from Zack and Miri. How do you feel about that issue?

Elizabeth Banks: Modern porn is much better about being feminist. Porn in which women are degraded is a real turnoff for me. Seth and I talk about that; neither of us like, you know, choking scenes. [Laughs] Am I blind to the fact that pornography can be degrading to women? Not really. It can also be very degrading to men. I don’t think we’re trying to ignore that in the movie. I just think we’ve moved beyond it in terms of women taking more control over the industry.

TOC: You said men are more interested in the physical, women want other things. Does that also apply to what men and women want from porn?

Elizabeth Banks: I have no idea what people want from porn. I think anybody who is shown pornography and claims not to be titillated is completely out of touch with their emotions. Whether male or female.

TOC: You ever watch porn yourself?

Elizabeth Banks: I am familiar with the genre, yes.

TOC: That’s very diplomatic.

Elizabeth Banks: I’ll say this: I didn’t have to do any additional research for the making of this movie.

TOC: Do you have a favorite porn star?

Elizabeth Banks: I think Jenna Haze has a big career ahead of her. She’s lovely. I like natural beauties first and foremost. I’m not into the plastic Barbies or big boobs.

TOC: So—women, then.

Elizabeth Banks: Women are the stars of porn. Guy porn is for gay guys, not for women. I couldn’t name a male porn star working today.

TOC: If you were gonna star in porn, what kind would it be?

Elizabeth Banks: Animals. It would be all farm animals. Maybe a reimagining of Babe.

TOC: In Women’s Health, you said, “Sex is always funny.” What’s the funniest sex you’ve ever had?

Elizabeth Banks: I have been with the same guy for 16 years, so if I tattle, I’m revealing who the other person is. I can say, because his mother and father already know this, that we had some funny experiences in public places when we were in college.

TOC: For example?

Elizabeth Banks: We had a thing with planes, trains and automobiles at one point, so we had some “oops, we’ve been caught” moments in some really wrong places.

TOC: Was it about daring to get caught?

Elizabeth Banks: It was just being young and wanting to fuck like bunnies wherever we could.

TOC: The MPAA initially gave Zack and Miri an NC-17 rating and then changed it to R after an appeal.

Elizabeth Banks: After several appeals. We were ultimately fighting over 14 frames of film: the defecation moment and the amount of thrusts. Apparently, there’s a number that puts you just over into NC-17 territory. [Laughs] Saw IV, which is about mutilating people, gets an R rating. We have a couple of bodily fluids, and we suddenly have an NC-17.

TOC: Let’s talk about another role of yours: When playing Laura Bush in

Oliver Stone’s W., how’d you get inside someone who seems all carefully managed surface?

Elizabeth Banks: Yeah. She is. Laura Bush is very disciplined about keeping her private self separate from her public self, so she’s an enigma. I had to dig through the biographical material I could find for moments of candor, moments where she let her guard down and I could see the real woman. So it’s my best guess: She believes her job as First Lady is to take care of the emotional and psychological health of the President of the United States.

TOC: You’ve said, “Laura wears the pants in the relationship because all women wear the pants in the relationship.” Would your husband agree?

Elizabeth Banks: My husband is a very smart man, and thus he would agree.

TOC: You also called Bush “a great guy” with “a good heart.” “Great guy” is not a term most Democrats like yourself use for Bush. Is that an apolitical statement?

Elizabeth Banks: It’s completely apolitical. Should he be leading the free world? Probably not. Is he the guy you want to have a beer with? Sure. He’s an affable man who, we have to remind ourselves, was elected twice. Not just once. Twice.

TOC: Some might say once.

Elizabeth Banks: Some might say, some might say. But the guy got 50 million votes two times, so 50 million people agree with me that he, as a human being and not as a politician, is a “great guy.” He’s a loyal husband and father, he cares about his kids—those basic things. I am a Democrat, but I am not of the opinion that George Bush is evil or meant to do harm. He was doing the best he knew how to do. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t much.

TOC: But you’re still gonna vote for Obama, right?

Elizabeth Banks: I am voting for Obama, yes. Same thing: John McCain is a great guy.

TOC: So “great guy” doesn’t mean “great president.”

Elizabeth Banks: “Great guy” does not mean “great president.” Which I think is part of the problem with our electorate right now: We want to elect a personality, somebody we recognize. I want to elect the smartest guy I’ve ever known. I want to elect the most elite individual we can find. The idea of “I need my president to be somebody I can hang out with” is ludicrous to me.

TOC: To bring it back to sex: Laura and George W.—what do you think? Pure vanilla?

Elizabeth Banks: Oh, no, I think they mix it up. People’s sexuality is very complicated, as John Edwards and Larry Craig like to remind us on a daily basis. [Laughs] So I would not deign to guess what anybody else’s home life is like.

Zack and Miri opens October 31.

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