‘The Hunger Games’: Elizabeth Banks Recalls Effie’s Infamous Nails; ‘I Literally Didn’t Function’

Set in a dystopian society, The Hunger Games is a pretty grim series. Though there are moments of lightness and love, largely the world of Panem is dark, dangerous, and desolate. But, there is one character who consistently brings humor to the story. Of course, that person is none other than Effie Trinket, the escort of District 12 tributes. Elizabeth Banks was perfectly cast as the absurd yet lovable escort and she added some much-needed levity to the dark films.

The Hunger Games cast member Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Effie is the first glimpse of life in The Capitol and how drastically different it is from life in the districts. Though she certainly plays a role in helping the gruesome Hunger Games to persist, it’s quite difficult for fans to hate her. It quickly becomes clear that Effie is nothing more than a pawn in a greater game and her life of privilege hasn’t allowed her to think about what life would be like for her if she happened to be born elsewhere.

Elizabeth Banks played a key role in ‘The Hunger Games’ cast

In lots of ways, Effie’s humor within The Hunger Games is derived from the absurd way that she views life. While Katniss and Peeta try to cope with their impending death, Effie is fixated on trivial things like dessert, furniture, temporary living arrangements, parties, and of course, fashion. Effie’s hair and makeup was nothing short of outrageous, which juxtaposed perfectly with the plainclothes of those in District 12. In order to get into character, Banks had to undergo a complete transformation. But just how did the hair and makeup artists decided on a look for Effie?

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“It’s really fun to watch yourself disappear in the movie every day, and watch Effie appear,” Banks revealed in an interview with Collider about The Hunger Games. “It required a full transformation. I never knew how old she was, in reading the book. She could be 30, or she could be 100. I imagine, in the future, life expectancy is long and they use crazy plastic surgery. Who the hell knows what’s going on? So, I really wanted her to be ageless. Gary’s [Ross, the film’s director} one real note was, ‘I imagine Joel Grey in Cabaret for her face.’ That was our jumping off point, and why we ended up with the rough skin and the gnarliness of that.”

Banks reveals that the nails she had in ‘The Hunger Games’ made it difficult to function

From there, the hair and makeup artists added elaborate wigs, jewelry, clothing, makeup, etc. Of course, fans of The Hunger Games will remember the intricate nail designs that Effie possessed as well. From bold colors to jewels, Effie’s nails inspired many manicurists. But, while the nails may have looked great on screen, they were a bit of a nightmare for Banks to deal with. In fact, she had to have help with even the most mundane tasks.

“I didn’t,” Banks confessed when asked how she coped with the nails she had during The Hunger Games. “I literally didn’t function. I had ladies-in-waiting that did everything for me. I couldn’t type on my phone. I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I couldn’t get in and out of [my costume]. By the time I got to the lunch line, everybody was back in their trailers, done with lunch. I was like, ‘There’s no one to eat with! I just got here!’ It took me 25 minutes to get in and out of my costume. My lunch hour was a full 10 minutes of eating, and that’s it. But, it was fine.”

Clearly, the cast of The Hunger Games had to deal with some pretty huge transformations on screen and off-screen. And while the outlandish nails may have proved difficult for Banks, we can’t really imagine pre-war Effie without them.