Elizabeth Banks is clearly excited by the incredible success of The Hunger Games, which hauled in $155 million domestically in its opening weekend, but she's also defending the film's portrayal of violence, saying that the filmmakers "are protecting our young fans."
"You know I think we protected the brutality that's necessary to tell this story, but we also are protecting our young fans," she tells ET. "It's a PG-13 movie, it's not R rated. I don't think there's anything excessive or exploitative about the violence in The Hunger Games."
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Of the film's worldwide opening of $214.3 million, Elizabeth gleams, "It's always an amazing feeling when so many passionate people come out to see movies. You know, the only reason to make movies is for people to see them, so I'm so excited that so many people turned out for The Hunger Games and loved it, you know?"
In the futuristic movie, Elizabeth plays Effie Trinket, the eccentric Capitol advisor to Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who risks her life as tribute to save her sister.
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"I knew it was a great piece of material, and I knew that I loved these characters and this journey of Katniss Everdeen's," says Elizabeth, "but man, I had no idea so many people were going to jump on the bandwagon with me."
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So what's next for the star? The drama People Like Us, in theaters June 29. Elizabeth plays a single mom and recovering addict whose father dies, and she discovers she has a brother she never knew about, played by Chris Pine. Calling it an "amazing, character-driven story," she jokes, "Chris Pine's showing off in this movie. … He plays a character that you really should not like … [but] because it's Chris Pine playing this character, you're in love with him from the first minute and you're rooting for him the whole time."