Watch: Elizabeth Banks braces herself for the ‘Hunger Games’ onslaught

I’ve interviewed Elizabeth Banks a handful of times now, and she comes across during a press day the same way she comes across in her work:  down to earth, not fussy at all, and always just sort of slightly kidding about things.

I’ll have my full interview with her about the new film ‘Man On A Ledge’ soon, but for now, we wanted to share a short piece of the conversation when I brought up the impending onslaught of publicity and attention for “The Hunger Games.”

I just talked to Woody Harrelson about the film as well, and he seemed well aware of what sort of expectation there is for the movie.  Banks, though, seems like she’s got her head down, focused on this year’s “30 Rock” and doing publicity for “Ledge” and basically anything that keeps her from thinking about the insane spotlight that she’s about to step into with this series.

I get it.  It’s one thing when you make a movie in a vacuum and you release it and people suddenly fall in love with it and there’s a big fan base that grows from the movie.  But this sort of big fat pop culture phenomenon that you’re adapting is something very different, and it comes with a totally different type of attention.  Fans of the “Hunger Games” series have very strong opinions about the casting, and while some of the choices may have been controversial, it seems like fans have taken to the idea of Banks playing Effie Trinket in a big way.

Effie’s a big character, and Banks is an interesting choice for the part.  I like Banks, but one of the things I like about her is that she’s able to blend into films.  She’s attractive, but she rarely looks the same from film to film.  She’s funny, but she’s got a strong knack for drama.  She’s hard to pin down, and that’s made her easy to cast but hard for audiences to get to know as “Elizabeth Banks,” which is, of course, the point.  Effie wears clothes and makeup that are bigger than she is, a garish spray-on personality that marks her as a slave to the fashion of The Capitol.  She is an important ally to Katniss Everdeen, the character played by Jennifer Lawrence, and if these films are going to work, we’d better love Effie.

I’ll have the full conversation with Banks soon, but for now, we just found it endearing that she’s trying to tune out that freight train headed her way, and we sincerely hope she enjoys her last few months as a working actor before she finds herself in the eye of a pop-culture hurricane.

“The Hunger Games” opens everywhere March 23, 2012.