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WIF Crystal Award Winner Elizabeth Banks Apologizes For Calling Out Steven Spielberg Over Lack Of Female Leads

Deadline logo Deadline 6/15/2017 Anita Busch
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UPDATED, Thursday, 4:15 PM: Elizabeth Banks, who called the legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg out on Tuesday night before 900 people attending the Women in FilmCrystal Awards for not directing films with female leads (he has with such films as The Color Purple and The Sugarland Express), has tweeted out an apology for her remarks this afternoon, saying she was wrong and she was sorry for the error. Deadline was first to report the remarks she made while accepting the WIF’s Crystal Award. Gotta say, it takes a big person to apologize and so publicly. Here is her tweet:

PREVIOUSLY Wed. 9:17 AM: Elizabeth Banks, who was presented the Women in Film Crystal Award for excellence in film, called Steven Spielberg on the carpet last night for not employing females as leads in his films. “I went to Indiana Jones and Jaws and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.” That’s when someone from the audience yelled out “The Color Purple!” Banks, corrected herself and said, “Okay, The Color Purple, okay, I’m wrong. Ummmmm … he directed?” Someone in the crowd then yelled out, “No!” so Banks said, “Oh, so I’m right still.” I guess no one remembers that the enormous and well-publicized snub by the Academy that year when the film was nominated for pretty much everything but Spielberg as director. He also directed The Sugarland Express which starred former Crystal Award winner Goldie Hawn.

Then Banks continued her point, which was an excellent one: “I grew up going to see amazing movies with amazing men at the heart of them and no one dragged me screaming and kicking to see these movies. They are great movies. Tell great stories and invite people into the stories. And this woman in the audience (of a panel discussion Banks was a part of), said, ‘Do you have children?’ At the time, I did not. And she said, ‘Well, I have two boys. And it’s nearly impossible to get them to be excited about a movie about girls.” That’s when someone in the WIF Awards audience yelled out “Lolita!” to laughter.

“I have been fueled in the industry a lot by anger and jealousy — I can admit that. And I was really angry at this woman, and I didn’t have the words or the experience or the voice in that moment to tell her how crazy it is that, like, you’re in charge of what they do, you’re their mother! Like buy a fucking ticket to a movie with a woman. Take them, give them the experience of seeing an amazing women on film! I didn’t have that voice then, but I have it now. And I’m the mother of two boys … and their favorite movie for like two and a half years was Frozen.”

“I am so proud that I get to raise my two boys to love women. And I’m so proud that I get to present an example to them of a working mom who really loves what she does. And I take the responsibility very seriously. In this room, we are creating culture. We are sending messages out to the world. Those messages matter. And presenting strong, independent women who have agency in TV and film is really important, not just in this room and not just in our culture but in the global culture … and co-opting men and boys into that process is the only way that progress is going to happen.” She then thanked her husband “a great partner” who she has been with for 25 years. “He really expects them to want to go see cool movies with really awesome, kick-ass female leads. I appreciate that very much in helping me shape them in great little feminists.”

Eight years ago, Banks was named the Face of the Future so, she told this year’s recipient — actress Zooey Deutch — that she had eight years to wait before she then gets “the old lady in the business award.” She noted that when she was looking for an agent, “The first agent I met in this business told me to get a boob job, and I’m so grateful that I … uh, didn’t … have enough money at the time to follow his advice.” She, of course, never signed with him.

And now Banks not only has co-starred in major franchises such as The Hunger Games, but she is also the producer (and director of one) of the Universal Pictures’ franchise Pitch Perfect, which has grossed $402.8M globally and launched a three-quel. Not surprisingly, Universal chairman Donna Langley presented the award to Banks last night.

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