More: In People Like Us your character, Frankie, goes through tremendous extremes with her son, Josh. Off camera, you went through tremendous extremes to become a mom. Did your personal experience help prepare you for this role?
Elizabeth Banks: I wanted to play Frankie because I recognized in her the real-life struggles I see a lot of women go through every day. I know many women who do everything themselves, carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and ask for no help. It is a real struggle for some people to figure it out while creating a safe haven for their kid.
More: Frankie is a single mom and an alcoholic. How did you prepare to take on this challenge?
EB: I went to AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] to learn the 12 steps. I also watched my sister, who was a single mom for many years, and I remember the things she went through.
More: Your son in this movie is a lot older than your toddler, Felix.
EB: Yes. The boy [actor Michael Hall D’Addario] in this movie is at an interesting age that I am in no hurry for my son to get to.
EB: Josh, my onscreen son, needs his mom but not as much as he used to. Now he needs more emotional support than physical support. When they are young, you have to do everything for them, yet as Michael says in the movie, “I can microwave a pizza.” The one thing Josh can’t take care of is his heart, and that is the angle I focused on. The transition of new ways your child needs you and how you deal with it was important for me to expand upon.
More: Frankie is also faced with a lot of challenges. Does Elizabeth find that to be true in her own life?
EB: I think parenting is a role where you have to pledge unconditional love, but you can’t expect it in the reverse. It is a bad bargain you have no choice but to make.
More: Michael’s character also had to deal with being bullied. Although Felix is still young, did these scenes open your eyes to what could be out there when he goes to school?
EB: It is all about listening. Right now Felix just leads the way, and I follow him. I think if you let your kids lead you, allow yourself to really pay attention and try to be in touch, in tune, as well as giving them space and love, all will be good.
More: What did this movie teach you about life, family and forgiveness, the three main themes of the film?
EB: Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. Forgiveness allows grace, which is the most amazing feeling. This movie is about connecting and forgiving, and I love being reminded about that message.
More: Sounds as if you learned a valuable lesson.
EB: The greatest lesson is you can make family wherever you go. You can’t choose family, and, yes, family can be complicated because you can’t erase stuff, but if you want family in your life, then you have to learn how to have acceptance.
More: You have written about the mountains you had to climb to get a baby. Do you call Felix your little miracle?
EB: I think all children are miracles.
More: You married your college sweetheart and are still going strong. What’s the secret to longevity?
EB: One of the ways we spend time together is by working out together, and it is so great. It releases endorphins, and you feel happy and amazing afterward.
More: In a world obsessed with celebrity, how do you manage to stay under the radar?
EB: That’s because I am very boring. I stay off the beaches where the photographers camp out because I have my own pool [laughs].
More: You have played so many memorable roles. What’s your dream role?
EB: To mom well.
More: You are 38 and at the number-one spot on Hollywood’s A-list. What’s the advantage of being a seasoned professional?
EB: You know where all the good restaurants are [laughs]. I feel really great, accomplished, whole and settled. When you are younger, you feel really unsettled. Now I feel not only settled but really secure with who I am and the life I have. It is really great.