Elizabeth Banks Reflects on Aging in Hollywood and Feeling "Invisible"

Elizabeth Banks is ready to turn 50. The actor and filmmaker celebrates the milestone birthday on Feb. 10 — making her an Aquarius, by the way — and is welcoming the new decade with open arms. In addition to a consistent skin-care routine and self-care practices, Banks is armed with a self-assuredness that simply wasn't possible until now.

"I feel very much like I'm standing on the shoulders of the old me that's built me until this moment," she tells POPSUGAR. "I suddenly get to really take in all that learning that I have, all that wisdom, and I get to move forward with a really different sense of confidence. There's just no imposter syndrome when you get to be a professional who's 50."

Healthy habits also help Banks feel her best, and lately, her focus has been on creating a restorative nighttime routine. "I've never appreciated sleep more in my entire life," she says. "I think everyone is trying to figure out a bedtime routine that does not involve our devices. How do we create real regenerative space for ourselves? We need to have that time."

As part of her replenishing evening routine, Banks reaches for No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Night Cream ($32). (She is an ambassador for the brand.) The Future Renew collection, which also includes a serum, day cream with SPF, and eye cream, utilizes peptide technology to address visible signs of damage.

"I love that Future Renew got named Future Renew," Banks says. "It reminds me that like, 'The future is tomorrow, we need to renew tonight, we need to get this going.' And for me, sleep has just become a huge, huge part of my routine."

Looking back at previous decades, Banks has a renewed perspective on the choices she made in her life and career. At age 20, the star says she would encourage herself to spend more time with her family. "In our 20s, we're becoming independent. For me, I left home, and I was living my life and I was with my friends and it was amazing. I had the best time."

Banks continues, "And now as I look back, I really think about dinners I didn't have with my parents and time with my siblings. I don't have a huge regret, I have a great relationship with everyone in my family. But looking back, [I] think it would have been nice to involve them a little more in my life. As a parent now too looking at my kids getting older and knowing they're gonna leave me, I hope and pray that they just invite me to dinner every once in awhile." The actor shares two sons with her husband, Max Handelman, whom she married in 2003.

In her 30s, Banks's career was skyrocketing. Following her first major role in 2001's "Wet Hot American Summer," the actor starred in films like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and the Spider-Man franchise, but in hindsight, Banks says she wishes she took more risks. "I wish I had moved even faster into just being bolder about who I was and what I wanted, and not being so afraid that the industry was going to punish me for saying things that I wanted," she reflects. "But, you know, it worked out. And my early naivete was probably a superpower that I didn't realize I had."

Turning 40 was surprisingly difficult, Banks recalls, and taught her a harsh truth about being a woman in the entertainment industry. "I had always heard that women sort of become invisible in their 40s, and I did not understand what that meant until I turned 40," she says. "I just had this crazy realization, as I hit 40, of, 'Oh, I'm literally biologically less attractive to the male species.' When you make your living being attractive, as part of it, it was a real blow."

Banks responded by pivoting to directing, producing, and writing. In addition to producing (and starring) in the cult-favorite Pitch Perfect films, she was behind projects like Hulu's series Shrill and the 2023 horror-comedy "Cocaine Bear." "I feel great about everything that I've accomplished, but it was definitely spurned on by what I felt was like utter rejection in my early 40s."

In her 50s, Banks is "on a pathway to not giving any fucks." "I'm not there yet, but I can see it, and I cannot wait to get there," she says. "I feel that I've built enough now, enough equity in who I am and what I've done, and the people that I surround myself with, that I won't have to care so much about what people think."