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Elizabeth Banks: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Was Billed as a ‘Feminist Manifesto’ but I Was Just Making an Action Movie

Banks also said a "big producer of big action movies" told her she "couldn't direct action, that male actors were not going to follow me."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Elizabeth Banks attends the Premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Charlie's Angels" at Westwood Regency Theater on November 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Elizabeth Banks

FilmMagic

Elizabeth Banks is calling out an industry double standard.

After writing, directing, producing, and starring in 2019’s “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, Banks reflected on the film’s box-office flop in an interview with The New York Times.

“I would’ve liked to have made ‘Mission: Impossible,’ but women aren’t directing ‘Mission: Impossible,'” Banks said. “I was able to direct an action movie, frankly, because it starred women and I’m a female director, and that is the confine right now in Hollywood.”

Banks claimed that a “big producer of big action movies” once told her directly that she “couldn’t direct action, that male actors were not going to follow me.”

“He was flummoxed at the idea that a woman would be able to lead the Rock on a CGI screen, I guess?” Banks said.

For “Charlie’s Angels,” Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska starred in the film as the core trio, with Banks, Patrick Stewart, and Noah Centineo also appearing.

“Let me say I’m proud of the movie,” the “Pitch Perfect 2” director said. “I loved Kristen Stewart being funny and light. I loved introducing Ella Balinska to the world. I loved working with Patrick Stewart. It was an incredible experience. It was very stressful, partly because when women do things in Hollywood it becomes this story. There was a story around ‘Charlie’s Angels’ that I was creating some feminist manifesto. I was just making an action movie.”

Banks added, “I wish that the movie had not been presented as just for girls, because I didn’t make it just for girls. There was a disconnect on the marketing side of it for me.”

Despite saying that it’s a “long conversation that I don’t know that I want to get into” since it might get her “in trouble,” Banks noted that it’s difficult being one of the “very few female directors in Hollywood” in a “male-dominated world.”

“That’s what I’m up against, but I can’t solve it and I don’t really want to analyze it. It’s not interesting to me,” Banks said. “It puts me, frankly, in a position where the studio head is going to read it in The New York Times and be like, ‘Wow, that Liz Banks has got a lot to say.’ I don’t need that added pressure. I truly feel that it’s dangerous to talk about these things now.”

Banks previously said that if “Charlie’s Angels” didn’t make money, it “reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies” outside of male-dominated IPs like Marvel and DC.

“I wanted to make sure that this movie felt distinct from this sort of super-powered superheroes, the lights-shooting-out-of-your-fingertips women that I feel like have been in action movies right now, and really celebrate the everyday heroics of women all around me,” Banks told IndieWire. “I think it’s important as a woman and as a filmmaker and as a feminist to recognize that I stand on the shoulders of the women that came before me.”

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