Power Rangers: Elizabeth Banks Explains 'Terrifying' Rita Repulsa

We interview Power Rangers star Elizabeth Banks about playing the role of iconic villain Rita Repulsa and joining the popular franchise.

Power Rangers - Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks)

Elizabeth Banks has been in numerous movies across the sci-fi and comic book movie realm, starting with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man where she was featured as Betsy Brandt and more recently as Effie Trinket in the Hunger Game films, or Wyldstyle in The Lego Movie. Now she brings her talents to Power Rangers as the villainess Rita Repulsa.

Screen Rant spoke with Elizabeth Banks about bringing her experience to the Power Rangers universe and how she put that experience to use while working with fresh talent.

SR: First of all I wanna say thank you because I'm a huge Power Ranger fan, like a huge Power Ranger fan. . .

Banks: Sweet.

SR: You, Bill and Brian brought credibility back to the franchise, so thank you so much.

Banks: Thank you.

SR: Your Rita is very menacing.

Banks: Yeah.

SR: And terrifying.

Banks: Oh good.

SR: And I know that the Japanese, the Sentai Counterpart -

Banks: Yeah.

Power Rangers - Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks)

SR: She was based on the Wicked Witch of the West.

Banks: Oh, yeah, yeah.

SR: So, where did you draw your inspiration from?

Banks: From her.

SR: Oh really?

Banks: Yeah, ya know, and Rita, I mean, it's interesting, cause I really just, we talked a lot about being sort of kitschy and campy, over the top, maintaining a sense of you know, wildness about her.

SR: Sure.

Banks: And she's very unhinged, which is totally the Wicked Witch by the way, and like, the, but then also, on like the series,  I feel like when you watch the show, you always feel like the Power Rangers are going to win at the end right?

SR: Absolutely.

Banks: Like, you're never that worried for their safety . . . and in this movie we needed the stakes to feel real, we wanted the audience to go on a real roller coaster of will they/won't they, how are they gonna do it, ya know, it has to feel, those stakes had to feel strong.

SR: Absolutely.

Banks: And so, that blend of like "no she really is terrifying, and she really is strong, and she's really boss. You know, it was an interesting blend,  ya know, I mean, I don't know, I'm still struggling, like did it work?

SR: It was great.

Banks: Okay, great. *laughs*

SR: Yeah, as a true fan I was like "wow, this is the Rita that, that I wanted to see."

Banks: Yeah, good, good, good.

SR: Now, another thing that I had a question about was what actually made you take this role? Cause that to me, to me that was a huge surprise.

Banks: I, ya know, I, I think when you get the chance to play somebody iconic and that's meaningful to people.

SR: Sure.

Banks: Ya know, I've done it now a few times and when you can create something that ya know, that like people, that permeates culture, and like people take with them, and point to, and that feels important, like that feels really fun, and it's like story telling at another level, and I felt like that was the opportunity.

SR: That's awesome.

Banks: That Rita was, yeah.

SR: You know, you had to learn a whole other language, Eltarian.

Banks: Yes. *laughing*

SR: Which is Zordon's home planet, how hard was that, and like how did that even come about? The language?

Banks: Uh, they hired someone to create a language.

SR: Oh wow.

Banks: Yeah, you know, like Dothraki, right?

SR: Sure.

Banks: They hired someone, this young woman, who's a linguist I guess, I mean, I Face Timed with her.

SR: Oh wow.

Banks: And she, we walked through sentences and she would break them down phonetically and stuff, and then she even had logic to it, like "well, no, that's a verb so it would be like this. . . " and was like WOW I love how seriously someone took it, ya know?

Power Rangers reboot Rita Repulsa played by Elizabeth Banks vs Becky G as Trini Kwan

SR: That's amazing.

Banks: Um, yeah, so I, just frankly kinda studied it with her and then tried to make it seem, I don't know real nuts.

SR: It absolutely seemed real to me. Where do you see Rita going in future sequels, if that's even a thing on the table.

Banks: I mean, we are just here in this moment right now . . . *Laughs*

SR: Sure, Sure.

Banks: Hoping that the fans embrace the movie . . .

SR: It's so good.

Banks: Hoping people love it, ya know, I think, I mean I love it, and I had so much fun, I think it's really fun, I think it speaks to young people, in a great fresh way, um I love this cast, so I'm, I'm down for whatever, but I . . .

SR: Well, that's good to hear.

Banks: I don't predict the future, I don't predict the future.

SR: You know, yesterday at the press conference, I saw you almost glowing when these kids were answering these questions . . . 

Banks: I mean, I was so proud of them.

Power Rangers - Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks)

SR: Yeah, right? Did you have any advice for them on set, because you're a veteran actress and a lot of these guys are doing this almost for the first time, did you have any advice for them at all?

Banks: I don't, you know, I really don't give advice, they don't need my advice, I'm not their Auntie or their Mommy, but, what I do try and do is present on set, good role model, I show up on time, I put in the work, I do the research, and to me, that's what I'm offering when younger actors, when I work with them, ya know, it's what was provided to me when I first came on movie sets, like that professional quality that I, ya know, that I love, and admire, the people that understand, like this crew of 250 people have families to go home to, at the end of the day, like they really don't have time for your bulls**t.

SR: Sure, sure.

Banks: I like that.

SR: That's awesome.

Banks: I like people who understand that . . .

SR: Awesome.

Banks: And take this job for what it is, it's a job, and we're here to entertain people.

NEXT: Our Interview with the Blue and Yellow Rangers

Key Release Dates
  • Power Rangers (2017) release date: Mar 24, 2017
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