Cocaine Bear, Elizabeth Banks’ third directorial feature, is a wild sequence of events that begins with a drug smuggler dumping their product across a forest in Georgia. When a 500-pound black bear discovers and consumes a duffel bag full of cocaine everyone in the forest is in danger. The bear goes on a murderous, coke-fueled rampage, with locals and tourists scrambling to survive while a local mother searches for her missing daughter and two drug dealers try to recover the lost product.
Shockingly Cocaine Bear was inspired by a real story where a bear discovered and consumed cocaine that a drug smuggler had dumped. However, the bear did not go on a rampage and instead died of an overdose shortly after eating the cocaine. Cocaine Bear features an impressive cast with Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Margo Martindale.
Ehrenreich and Jackson Jr. discuss their new movie, Cocaine Bear. Jackson discussed his initial reaction to the script and working with Ray Liotta. Ehrenreich broke down finding the humanity in the absurd story and Elizabeth Banks’ directing style. Both Jackson and Ehrenreich shared their thoughts about returning to the Star Wars universe.
Alden Ehrenreich & O’Shea Jackson Jr. on Cocaine Bear
Screen Rant: First of all, this movie is hilarious and terrifying all at the same time, but it has a bunch of heart too. O’Shea, this is not the day for your character Daveed. It is probably the worst day of this dude’s life. What were your first thoughts when you read this script?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Number one, take my money. I have to go see it. And number two, yes, Daveed is going through it. But a lot of people get it a lot worse, so it’s really a give and take on which side of the coin do you want to be on. I’m happy to be on Daveed’s side.
Alden, your character has a surprisingly emotional journey about grief and fatherhood. How did you balance the human story with the absurdly hilarious comedy and tense moments of horror?
Alden Ehrenreich: Well, for me, they’re all the same. That zany stuff is better served by it being real to you when you’re doing it, so they go hand in hand. And I liked it a lot that, that storyline was in there, and I think Jimmy, the writer, put in a lot. I think Liz Banks said a while back, each one of these is about family in some way, and I think that gives it a little heart, even if what you’re mostly experiencing is the crazy zany fun of it all.
O’Shea, we recently lost the legend Ray Liotta. You both had the opportunity to work with Ray on this film. Can you talk about working with Ray on Cocaine Bear?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Yeah, it’s just looking at playing with an icon. It is just one of those moments, it’s like going one-on-one or shooting jump shots with an NBA legend. It’s just like a piece of history right there in front of you. Somebody who you’ve seen your whole life have conversations wit you, crack jokes with you. It’s a surreal feeling. And the chills you get now, knowing the guy, respecting the guy, and then for you to be in his last film. It’s a new feeling anytime I see the classic works that Ray has done, because I feel a connection to him that I didn’t know I’d be blessed with.
Alden, Elizabeth does such a tremendous job of directing this picture. Can you talk to me about working with her as a director and what her directing style brought to Cocaine Bear?
Alden Ehrenreich: Yeah, she was really great. She ran a great set. It was really fun. She kept the energy up. She knew what she wanted. Like Shea’s been saying, she is an actor, so her ability to understand, I’ve gotten to do that a few times and when there’s an actor behind the camera, their sense of what you’re going through or how to elevate what you’re doing is always a lot stronger. And so she was just a joy.
Both of you guys are in both Star Wars projects that I absolutely love. You guys have both played in the Star Wars universe in characters against the Empire, and by the way, you guys have tremendous chemistry. Would you guys want to reteam for maybe a Star Wars heist project somewhere down the line in the future?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Allow me to answer this. Hell yeah! You know, I’ve been waiting by my phone since Obi-Wan Kenobi wrapped. I’m waiting for that email to pop up, baby. I’ve been trying to figure out timelines, like yo could Han with the running.
That was my question.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Get Roken, you know, with the power of prosthetics-
Alden Ehrenreich: You have to have gray hair or something?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: It’s fine. I don’t care. Whatever we got to do, we both toting blasters, let’s do it. Let’s get this party going, man. Quit playing. Don’t cheat us, treat us.
Alden Ehrenreich: Yeah. For my part, I’m not interested at all. [LAUGHS]
About Cocaine Bear
A drug smuggler drops their supply in Georgia and a 500-pound black bear stumbles across a duffel bag full of cocaine. After the bear consumes the cocaine no one is safe in the forest as the bear goes on a murderous coke-fueled rampage.
Check out our interview with director Cocaine Bear director Elizabeth Banks as well.
Next: Cocaine Bear Director Elizabeth Banks Is Open To Directing The DCU