Elizabeth Banks Champions Awareness Via Comedy

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Elizabeth Banks Champions Awareness Via Comedy

Elizabeth Banks -- star of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 30 Rock and the upcoming Hunger Games -- has partnered with The American Heart Association and directed a short film called Just A Little Heart Attack to increase awareness of women's number one killer – heart disease.

A statistic Banks, like many women today, was totally unaware of.

The actress recently rang up ETonline to explain why it's so important to get involved and what went into Just A Little Heart Attack!

ETonline: Why did you get involved with The American Heart Association?

Elizabeth Banks: First and foremost, I thought the idea was really fun. My father had a congenital heart condition that required him to have surgery when I was 21 years old but like most women I didn't really think of this as a woman's disease. Of all the male stereotypes, this was a weird one [laughs]. So I was clearly very aware of heart disease but not for women.

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ETonline: And how did the short film come about?

Banks: They approached me to be a potential director for the piece – the story was really fun. I'm a working mom right now and the idea of taking care of everyone in your life but yourself rang true to me. Just this past year, my husband hadn't been to the doctor in six years and only after I forced him to go did I realized that I hadn't been in a long time either.

ETonline: How do you describe Just A Little Heart Attack?

Banks: In all of the best comedy, there's truth, so it's played straight in that way. But we played it for the joke – which is, by the way, a very new thing for The American Heart Association. The institution is 90 years old and slightly conservative, so the idea of talking about heart disease in a comedic way is very new for them. But I think awareness via comedy is a great idea and I kept convincing them that if they wanted people to pass it along, the movie needed to be fun and funny, so we cloud the message in laughter.

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ETonline: Your on-screen husband is played by Colin Egglesfield -- who is very easy on the eyes.

Banks: I know, he's just hideous [laughs]. I knew the audience so we had to give the ladies some eye candy. I definitely went for the pretty -- but he also gives a great performance.

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ETonline: Your career has really taken off in the last few years, is one of the perks being able to get attention for organizations like this?

Banks:I'm having a really great time. I am loving the diversity in my career right now. With the more popular acclaim, I guess – I don't even know what you would call it – but with my raised public awareness, I feel like I have the opportunity to be a part of great projects like this. I wasn't initially going to act in the short but then we looked at the schedule – we had to shoot really fast – and I knew that I could do it quickly [laughs]. Just the ability to say, "I'd like to put my name on something" is really fun – and then to be able to hopefully influence other people is amazing.

For more on The American Heart Association, click here!