When actors stick to movies like "Spider-Man" and its sequels, they very rarely find themselves running into the real-life versions of their characters.
Thus, one can imagine Elizabeth Banks' concerns when meeting the real Janet Papale. Banks plays Janet in the new Disney underdog sports flick "Invincible," the short of Vince Papale's (Mark Wahlberg) rise from unemployed teacher to inspirational Philadelphia Eagles player. Since a number of creative liberties have been taken in shaping the "Invincible" story, Banks' character isn't exactly like her inspiration, but Janet still wanted to sign off.
"[S]he's appraising me and she's like, 'Alright, okay. This is going to work. I mean you don't really do it in the boob department.' That's the first thing she said to me," Banks says. "I thought 'Alright I like this lady.' She is so feisty, you know. She's a spark plug. She really is. She's a spark plug. She's great and that's what I try to do in the movie is just have that sense of sass and be a little feisty and she really keeps Vince on his toes. They have a great relationship. They are so supportive of each other. Exactly what you'd want in a marriage. I hope I got that sense of her essence up there."
Although Banks got to know the real Janet, she was able to relate to the film's fictional aspects. The character of Janet works as a bartender, one of several uses Banks has put her University of Pennsylvania degree to while making her way in Hollywood. In addition, in "Invincible," it's Janet's status as a New York Giants fan that produces tension with the Philly faithful.
"I drew on my experience going to Yankee Stadium with my Red Sox outfit on," the Pittsfield, Mass.-born actress laughs. "That's usually what I do. I don't go out, you know I'm not crazy and take my own life in my hands. I don't go in the bleachers wearing my Red Sox outfit, but I will sit behind home plate in my Red Sox cap very proudly and well protected."
With the exception of Papale's first wife (Lola Glaudini), who exits the picture early on, "Invincible" has an almost all-male cast from the football players to the bar denizens who make up Papale's circle of friends. Banks didn't mind being the only woman on set.
"I think I've done a lot of movies like that," she says. "It's very hard to find a movie where you get to hang out with a bunch of women. I'm kind of a guy's girl anyway. I think the best thing about that set is that everybody took the work really seriously, but nobody took themselves too seriously and that just makes for a great production. It just means everybody is going to have a good time and do their work well. We're all going to be in the mutual and admiration society and just have a nice time."
Banks knows the importance of just having a good time on set. While she's appeared in hit movies like "Seabiscuit" and "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," she's had more films like "The Heights" and "The Baxter" and "Slither," films that just never found an audience.
"Movies are little miracles every time they get made," she acknowledges. "I mean it's such a hard process to even get a movie on screen. I loved that movie. I actually think it's a really well done film. I make movies and I hope people see them. When they see them and when it does well you know when people get excited about it it's the cherry on top. You can't make a movie hoping audiences will see it. You have to make a movie for the experience of making a movie. You can't have any expectations from the audience."
Audiences will get to make up their own minds about "Invincible" when it goes wide on Friday, Aug. 25.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun