LOS ANGELES -- With her sparkling blue eyes, blond hair and model-like body, it would be easy to dismiss Elizabeth Banks as just another pretty Hollywood actress.
It only takes a few seconds of talking about her latest movie, "Man on a Ledge," to realize she's a driven, determined and realistic person when it comes to the career she's selected.
"I just figured out that you don't get what you don't ask for. All they can do is say no. If you know that going in, then that's all right," Banks says.
That's why Banks went after action-movie roles when good comedy roles dried up. She landed the serious role of police negotiator Lydia Mercer in "Man on a Ledge," playing opposite Sam Worthington.
Filming was done on a set 8 feet off the ground and on a real 27th-floor ledge. Banks never balked at doing any of the stunts, including climbing onto the real ledge.
"One of the real fun things about this film was everyone's commitment for shooting it for real. It was one of the reasons I wanted to do it. I liked the idea of running around with a gun, chasing bad guys and doing my own stunt work," Banks says.
Banks doesn't have a fear of heights, but she has what she calls a "fear of human error." She praises the "Ledge" stunt team, but still checked her harness 15 times.
Banks wasn't merely motivated by the action. Her character carries personal and professional baggage. "This character felt very authentic to me," she says. "I also liked (that) the role felt gender-neutral. It didn't matter she was a woman. I think it added something to it that she's female and clearly they wanted a little romance."
Banks, best known for lighter projects like "Scrubs" and "30 Rock," doesn't plan to permanently trade laughs for fights and felons. She wishes there were more comedy roles, and she realized after seeing last year's comedy dry spell that good ones are rare.
She's trying to create more funny movies through her own production company.
"I have a production company because this is the only job I know and this is the only career I have and the only industry I have worked in. ... Why wouldn't I produce? Great ideas can come from anywhere. I love storytelling. ... I believe that's what actors do," she says. "But as an actor, you come into the process last. All I get to do in this film is play Lydia Mercer and I don't even control that because they edit. ... As a producer, I get to tell stories that I care about in a way that I want to."