NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Migration

Elizabeth Banks Shares How Her Kids Inspired Her Role in Migration

The relationship between mom Pam Mallard from Migration and her little ducklings reminded Banks of her own family.

By Grace Jidoun
Elizabeth Banks poses on a red carpet

Being a mom is a tough job. It’s about being there through all the joy and happiness and also through the challenges and obstacles kids face. This is a central theme of Illumination’s upcoming animated feature, Migration, which premieres in theaters nationwide on December 22.

The Mallard duck family has a perfectly happy and uneventful life in their small New England pond, but mom Pam, played by Elizabeth Banks, dreams of adventure. In fact, she’s the driving force behind the family’s wild journey South to Jamaica, which quickly goes awry in charming and sometimes dangerous ways — especially when they encounter a New York City chef obsessed with duck à l'Orange. Pam, along with her husband Mack (Kumail Nanjiani), shepherds their flock of two kids, Dax (Casper Jennings) and Gwen (Tresi Gazal), through various hazards with all the patience and determination that you would expect from, well, a real mom.

RELATED: Migration Star Elizabeth Banks and Her Kids Met the Grinch on the Brooklyn Bridge

It's no surprise the role of Pam spoke to Banks on a deep level. The versatile Emmy-nominated actress is mom to two boys, Felix, 11, and Magnus, 10, with sportswriter husband Max Handelman. When she started the process of preparing for the role of Pam, her boys were close in age to her characters’ feathered kids, Dax (Caspar Jennings) and Gwen (Tresi Gazal).

Banks drew on experiences with her own children when voice-acting the bubbly character of Pam, bringing an authenticity that immediately connects with the audience.

“You’re never gonna not worry about your kids; it’s your heart beating outside of you,” she recently told NBC Insider.

“For me… I’m at that moment where I’m trying to push them out of the nest in a responsible way, where I want them to feel a greater sense of independence,” she said about her family. “It’s frankly always a test of your parenting, you know. Have I taught them not to run into traffic? Have I done a good enough job where they can go be in the world and be safe on their own?”

In Migration, Bank’s character gladly jumps into death-defying scenarios, not just for the adventure and thrills but also to protect her kids (and sometimes husband Mack). Migrating South for the winter and learning to be a parent are gigantic tasks, and Pam is up for the challenge, ready to take on the world. Except for maybe one thing: unplanned bathroom breaks. When we asked Banks which scene resonated the most for her, she responded, “I mean, just the bathroom scene.”

In the movie's official trailer, we get a peek at the “bathroom scene,” one of the many memorable vignettes parents will relate to. Apparently, even duck parents deal with ill-timed bathroom emergencies.

“The whole notion of, we’re not stopping the car has definitely happened in my life,” Banks revealed. “We will be 10 minutes past the rest stop where I’ve asked fifteen times approaching it, 'does anyone need to use the bathroom?' The kids will say, 'No, we’re fine, we’re fine,' and then, Five minutes later, 'I have to pee.' And then you’re just like, 'it’s not for fifty miles!'”

She added: “And that has completely happened, and then they’re going in a bottle in the back seat. They’re boys. That’s what happens.”

We hear you, Elizabeth!

Migration premieres in theaters on December 22.