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Elizabeth Banks will Orchestrate a Dream Date with Prince

Banks will tell the story of two women who changed their lives for the better on a perfect day in Sheridan, Wyoming.
Elizabeth Banks Love And Mercy
By  · Published on August 15th, 2018

Banks will tell the story of two women who changed their lives for the better on a perfect day in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Another essay chronicling the chaotic behind-the-scenes incidents of a seemingly unbelievable story will be getting the big screen treatment from a major studio. This one sounds especially delightful, even more so due to the involvement of Pitch Perfect’s Elizabeth Banks.

Banks has been on a roll in Hollywood for some time now. She constantly creates new opportunities for herself and others in the industry, keeping busy both behind and in front of the camera. However, and she won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Deadline reports that Banks has found her next starring and producing vehicle in a small-town Cinderella story. Chris Lee’s article for The Daily Beast “When Prince Made a Chambermaid His Queen For a Day” will be adapted into a movie for Paramount Pictures, with Flora Greeson called upon to redraft producer Josh Stolberg’s original script. While the headline alone presents the backbone for a story of a lifetime, the details of the gargantuan and precarious efforts that went into making this “dream date” a smooth-sailing reality is a coup in and of itself.

In 1986, Warner Bros. and MTV put together the “Win a Date with Prince” competition as part of an elaborate marketing plan to hype up the artist’s sophomore directorial effort, Under the Cherry Moon. The 10,000th caller to an MTV contest hotline was rewarded with 500 tickets to a screening of the film in their hometown and VIP access to a private after-party concert. Lo and behold, 20-year-old Lisa Barber, a shy motel chambermaid from Sheridan, Wyoming, was the lucky winner.

And thus, Warner Bros. brought the glitz, glam, and tons of media exposure to a town that, at the time, only had just under 10,400 residents. To say that the competition also meant a lot to Sheridan as a community would have been a total understatement, even if no one there was necessarily used to someone so flamboyant visiting their town. The stakes of this seemingly innocuous competition were thus kept at a fever pitch, and it was imperative that the event had to go off without a hitch.

Cue Prince’s spokesperson Robyn Riggs, who is the true focus of Lee’s article. A public relations revelation who prevented the “Win a Date” occasion from going haywire, Riggs realized that she had her work cut out for her when it came to getting Barber camera-ready for His Royal Badness.

In true Pygmalion fashion, Riggs had to transform Barber, a self-professed lover of Motley Crue and Ratt who had only been a casual Prince fan at best, into the perfect Prince fanatic. Per The Daily Beast, this process “involved a team of out-of-state fashion and beauty gurus as well as a crash course in public locution.” Yet, for all the finagling and finessing to make Barber look the part, her actual encounter with Prince did really leave her irrevocably changed. Almost immediately after that fateful day, she began coming out of her shell.

Deadline notes that Prince himself won’t actually be featured in Banks’ movie. Nevertheless, “his presence will hover through the film,” which could likely be achieved through the use of his music and archival footage. This obviously saves the studio a lot of trouble finding the perfect person to embody such a prominent and frankly irreplaceable cultural icon. Moreover, keeping Prince as unknowable as possible legitimately works in this particular instance, as his role in Lee’s piece certainly feels mythical; the Prince Charming of a fairytale.

Instead, the project will ground itself in the exploits of the hyper-determined go-getter Riggs and awkward wallflower Barber. Where Barber blossomed into a confident young woman from her more reserved shell, Riggs’ triumph in the workplace is also worth celebrating. The two even sincerely fostered a friendship with one another. Barber grilled Riggs about industry antics. Riggs made Barber over. While marketing and publicity played a huge role in their initial meeting, something genuine later formed (and continues to this day), and that makes the basis of a promising, adorable film.

As far as casting goes, Deadline is skint on details about exactly who Banks will actually play in the movie, but she would make a wonderful Riggs. Damn, does she fit the part of “a natural-born connector.” Banks simply oozes charisma. Some big films — namely Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies — properly wasted her, but her comedic resume is long and illustrious anyway. This includes the cruder The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Role Models, and those of the sweeter rom-com variety like Definitely, Maybe, demonstrating her fine-tuned ability to hit a film’s tone spot-on.

But my favorite Banks movies take her dramatic chops into account. She really made me love Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games film series (compared to how I received her in the books), not just because she is kooky and ostentatious as hell; she also depicts the character with so much warmth. Furthermore, Banks is the soul of the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy. Although she is definitively a love interest in the movie, she brings openness and conviction to a role that balances out the plot’s emotional extremes. You just can’t walk over Banks’ portrayal of Melinda Ledbetter, and that inner strength irrevocably shines through the screen.

So, Banks can undeniably play the overachiever. She also tends to display a sense of love and camaraderie for women in her best work that will be vital for Paramount’s project. Show business typically takes a village to maintain. In this case, one woman behind-the-scenes will finally have her story told, and Banks is the right woman for the job.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)