It's no secret that actress Elizabeth Banks is a huge fan of the "Hunger Games" books and movies — prior to the release of 2012's "The Hunger Games," she said that she pestered the film's producers, and even emailed Gary Ross, who directed the first film. "I just sent him a little email like, 'Just so you know, I'll totally play Effie, ha ha ha!' "
We all know the end result of that email, and after a successful turn as the bewigged Capitol liaison Effie Trinket, Banks is back for the second installment under the watchful eye of director Francis Lawrence. Her enthusiasm for the role has in no way faded, she told MTV News in a recent interview.
"Honestly, I still can't believe I'm a part of it," Banks said of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." "It really is amazing and I love it. I'm very proud."
While the wild wigs, costume and makeup that make Banks nearly unrecognizable go a long way to building the memorable character, it turns out that the actress herself came up with several shout-outs and lines that will undoubtedly further cement Effie's place as a fan favorite.
For example, remember the best line of the first movie? Of course you do:
In "Catching Fire," Banks managed a sly wink at the infamous quote while offering a running commentary on the Capitol landmarks she's walking Katniss and Peeta through: "The library, all mahogany."
"I brought that back, I threw it in there," she said of the line, which was unscripted. "I did it, and Francis called cut, and I went over to him, and said, 'You have to keep that in the movie, because the fans will go bananas.' "
Lawrence left it in and the fans did indeed go bananas, if exclamation point-filled Tumblr reactions are any evidence. Banks didn't just put her own spin on hardwood references though. She also revealed that the "curtains" comment about a fellow Capitol citizen's choice of accessory, as well as the memorably snapped "chins up, smiles on" tossed in the glum Katniss' direction were her ideas.
"I get to improv a lot with Effie, which is fun," she said. "There were really very few words scripted so I got to have fun with that sequence."
Though the self-proclaimed "sack of tigers" doesn't actually get to participate in the battle royale of the Hunger Games, she said she knew she'd excel in the tournament.
"I would love to be in the arena. I secretly harbor the fantasy of becoming an action star at any moment. I know I'd be great at it," she said. She even has a list of qualifications ready:
"I'd like to drive cars fast, I'd love to shoot bows and arrows, do fisticuffs. I take it very seriously."
And what she lacks in power, she said, she'd make up for in strategy.
"I don't know that I have physical strength so much, but I would use cunning. And I would try to create alliances of course. I recognize that survival is a collaborative process."