Elizabeth Banks on the “inspiring” true story behind Call Jane
The new film explores the true story of The Jane Collective – an underground group that helped women find safe access to abortions in '60s Chicago.
Last weekend, Hilary Clinton wrote on Twitter that Call Jane – the new film from Phyllis Nagy with a script by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi – "could hardly be more timely."
The film tells the story of The Jane Collective, an underground group that helped women find safe access to abortions in '60s Chicago when it was still illegal to do so, and given recent events in the US it has taken on a whole new significance.
Star Elizabeth Banks – who plays the fictional lead character Joy in the movie – hopes that the "inspiring" true story behind the film will help to offer some hope in a moment of great uncertainty.
"I knew nothing about The Jane Collective when I read this film," she explained in an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com. "This script was my introduction to their work.
"And learning about them after the fact and how many procedures they performed successfully, how they took control and took it into their own hands – I found them to be incredibly brave as a group of women.
"And I love that Joy, who's a fictionalised sort of representation of a woman who may show up to their doorstep, was a way for us to invite many other people into the conversation through Joy's journey with them."
Banks added that there were other aspects of the true story that didn't quite make it into the finished film, but which only served to highlight just how brave the women behind the real Jane Collective were.
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"It was illegal, they were worried about getting raided," she said. "Some of the things that were in the early drafts of the script that kind of fell away – they were paying bribes, the mafia was involved, they really were up against so much.
"So I just found them to be incredibly inspiring, and such an empowered group that also helped lead to Roe vs. Wade becoming the law of the land in America."
Although the film tackles some very tough issues, it does so in a way that is always entertaining – taking a slightly different approach than films such as Audrey Diwan's 2021 Venice prize winner Happening, which was released in UK cinemas earlier this year.
And director Nagy explained that although the two films "are not so very different" it was important for her to show the other side of the coin.
"I think the way that we treat lightness of touch in films is sometimes probably unfair," she explained. "In Happening, a woman suffers through 90 per cent of the film until she can get her abortion and then suffers some more. Not to minimise it – it's a great film.
"But the approach taken here is entirely different. Because we do have so many films that approach the subject matter in that other way."
For Banks, it was similarly important that the film offered some hope – which ties into the "one rule" she had for her character in the film.
“I think for the women that I know who've had abortions, it's very liberating, it's a positive thing," she said. "It’s a choice they're making that's life-affirming for them, and that I think was what drew me to this partially – it felt very honest.
"I said my one rule was I don't want to cry after the abortion, because most women I know are like ‘woohoo, all right, I can keep on keeping on now.’ And I think that's what drew me to it, it felt like it was about a decision that for most women is very life-affirming."
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