It’s got to be hard work casting a character when fans are nearly unanimous in their choice of actor. I imagine that when the folks behind Game of Thrones approached Peter Dinklage, they were feeling the pressure of the thousands of fans positive that he was the only possible person to play the sarcastic, silver-tongued dwarf, Tyrion Lannister. In that case, Dinklage was offered and accepted the role, but the producers of Hunger Games seem poised to neglect the public’s clamoring for Kristin Chenoweth in the role of the bubbly, bushy-tailed Effie Trinket. Instead, they are in talks with Elizabeth Banks.
Now, I’ve long been rooting for Banks to get the role, so naturally I think this news is great. I know there’s plenty of disagreement from Chenoweth fans, as well as certain people at EW who shall remain nameless — let’s just refer to them as Varen Kalby — but here’s my reasoning: Yes, Effie is about as bright and chipper as a squirrel in an acorn factory, but if you scratch her smiles-and-rainbows surface, you end up with something much darker. She is essentially the equivalent of chatty, spunky make-up girl giving you a quick once-over before she hands you to her good friends at the Spanish Inquisition. The fact that she’s occasionally likable is exactly what makes her so frightening, because it’s almost enough to let you forget that she’s just so super-duper excited to be involved in the ritualized murder of innocent children. Go, team, go!
Banks has both made crazy/evil ideology sound lovable (as Avery Jessup on 30 Rock: “I love this restaurant. This is one of the few places in New York with a veal tank.”) and kind words sound malicious (as the evil stepmother in The Uninvited). I was lucky enough to have been able to see Chenoweth in Wicked, and there are indeed parallels between her Glinda and Effie — two sweet-voiced, ambitious apologists for severely flawed systems — so I totally understand those who are in her corner. It’s just that, to me, she’s almost too likable at this point in her career. And I know Chenoweth has indicated her enjoyment of the series, but Banks is definitely a devout fan: She tweeted as early as August of last year, “MOCKINGJAY!!! Clearing three days of my life to devour this book. 3rd in Hunger Games trilogy. Read these!” It’s always nice to know that an actor has as much respect and love for the material as its fans.
What do you think? Do you hope Banks’ casting gets finalized? Are you a Chenoweth fan holding out hope for a ninth-inning turnaround? Do you think you’ll ever find out the true identity of the mysterious Varen Kalby?
UPDATE: A representative for Ms. Kalby informs me that she is, in fact, a big fan of Elizabeth Banks and is looking forward to her portrayal of Effie. She was only taking offense at my interpretation of the character and not the casting.