Why Elizabeth Banks Called Out Steven Spielberg — and Then Apologized

Elizabeth Banks is an acclaimed actor, producer, and director who has been in the entertainment business for several decades. While many appreciate her outspoken and no-holds-barred attitude about feminist causes, the actor has put her foot in her mouth. Most notably, Banks once called out famed director Steven Spielberg, only to apologize later when proven wrong.

What did Elizabeth Banks say about Steven Spielberg’s films?

elizabeth banks steven spielberg
Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg and actress Elizabeth Banks attend the USC Shoah Foundation Institute Ambassadors for Humanity Gala held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on June 6, 2012 in Hollywood, California. | Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Banks has a long history of not holding back. And when it comes to the state of women in films and how women are portrayed, she has some strong feelings. At the 2017 Women in Film Awards, Banks opened up about famed director Steven Spielberg, stating that she doesn’t think he features enough women in leading roles.

According to BuzzFeed, Banks said, “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.” 

Immediately after, an attending guest shouted out The Color Purple, a female-led film released in 1985. Reportedly, Banks corrected herself right then and there but still questioned whether Spielberg was the director of the acclaimed drama.

Elizabeth Banks later apologized for her remarks about Steven Spielberg

Banks later took to Twitter in the wake of the drama to clear the air. “I messed up,” Banks wrote. “When referring to Steven Spielberg at the Women in Film awards, I framed my comments about his films inaccurately. I want to be clear from the start that I take full responsibility for what I said and I’m sorry.”

She went on to describe The Color Purple as an “iconic” film. And she made the promise to do better in the future. “Those who have the privilege and honor of directing and producing films should be held to account for our mistakes, whether it’s about diversity or inaccurate statements,” she wrote.

‘The Color Purple’ is an acclaimed Steven Spielberg film


Steven Spielberg Got Cussed Out By This Legendary Singer Behind the Scenes of ‘The Color Purple’

Banks wasn’t wrong to call The Color Purple iconic. The film became one of Spielberg’s earliest hits. The coming-of-age drama stars Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Harris Johnson, a young woman in early 20th-century rural Georgia. The film also stars such legendary performers as Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey. The movie received a staggering 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for Goldberg.

Spielberg remains immensely proud of his work on The Color Purple, calling it his “first grown-up film.” “The audience has to find their own space and experience and empathize with those characters. The story was told through the words and experiences of these characters, not through the bigger concept of a shark attacking a summer resort or a truck going after a car,” the veteran director added. To this day, The Color Purple remains one of Spielberg’s best films, and one that showcases his ability to highlight human stories.