If these early Elizabeth Banks’ credits aren’t ringing a bell, don’t worry — her big break and the role that she considers the real start of her career was 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer. Although the film wasn’t a massive success at the time, it’s become a cult classic, with a couple of Netflix spinoffs. In the original film, Banks played the hot girl Lindsay, one of the counselors who hooks up with Andy (Paul Rudd), but she actually auditioned for the lead role.
“That was a real theme in my life back then. I auditioned for a lot of lead roles and got a lot of directors who said, ‘You’re really interesting, but—,” she told The Wall Street Journal when talking about her career pattern. “With Spider-Man they said, ‘You’re too old to play Mary Jane Watson’ —I was 26 at the time—’but here’s Betty Brant. You can play that instead.’ I auditioned for Catch Me if You Can to play Amy Adams’s role. They said, ‘Well, we’re going to give it to Amy Adams, but you can play the bank teller.’ That was the sort of the theme of my life for about six years—and still kind of is the theme of my life. I’m very much the bridesmaid, not often the bride.”
Since making a splash in Wet Hot American Summer and taking a second place role in the original Spider-Man trilogy, Banks has gone on to star in movies including Seabiscuit, Fred Clause, Power Rangers, The Hunger Games franchise and the Pitch Perfect franchise, which she produced with her husband, Max Handelman. On the small screen, her career has also blown up with recurring roles on Scrubs, 30 Rock, Modern Family, and, of course, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.