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SYFY WIRE Cocaine Bear

'Cocaine Bear' writer compares drug-fueled predator to King Kong: 'He is not the bad guy'

It wasn't the was cocaine that killed the beast.

By Josh Weiss
(from left) Stache (Aaron Holliday) and Daveed (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) in Cocaine Bear (2023)

It wasn't the was cocaine that killed the beast. A sh** ton of cocaine, to be exact. When a very large shipment of the powdery white stuff fell over the mountains of Georgia in 1985, an American black bear happened across the load and accidentally overdosed.

In an alternate reality — the one depicted in Universal Pictures' Cocaine Bear (out in theaters everywhere next week) — the apex predator survived the influx of narcotics to its system and went on a drug-fueled rampage, tearing through a collection of human beings stupid enough to get in its way. But just because the coked-up wild animal gives the movie its name, it doesn't mean it's the villain.

"There's a King Kong sort of framework to it," screenwriter Jimmy Warden (known for penning The Babysitter and its 2020 sequel) explained during an interview with Empire for the magazine's April 2023 issue (now on sale). "I wanted to create empathy for the bear like Kong. He's not the bad guy in this story. He's just doing what a bear does — it's the drugs that have made him insane."

RELATED: Elizabeth Banks explains how 'Evil Dead' and 'Jurassic Park' influenced 'Cocaine Bear'

Warden went on to state that he "did not hold back" with the script, which was "bloody and crazy from day one. You don't make a movie called Cocaine Bear then limp to an R-rating," he added. "You give the audience what they deserve."

Still, none of it would have mattered without the VFX artists working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to bring Warden's gonzo vision to life. "I put a lot of my trust in the people doing the CG to make it realistic, knowing that if they achieved a photo-realism that grounded the animal in reality, I could go crazy with what the bear does in the script."

Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie's Angels) directed the film, which co-stars Keri Russell (Antlers), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Godzilla: King of the Monsters), Christian Convery (Sweet Tooth), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Brooklynn Prince (The One and Only Ivan), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire), Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), Hannah Hoekstra (Faithfully Yours), Aaron Holliday (Euphoria), Margo Martindale (BoJack Horseman), and Ray Liotta (GoodFellas).

In addition to directing, Banks also produced the feature alongside Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Max Handelman, Brian Duffield, and Aditya Sood. Robin Mulcahy Fisichella, Alison Small, and Nikki Baida serve as executive producers.

Cocaine Bear arrives on the big screen next Friday, Feb. 24. Click here to purchase tickets.

Looking for more creature-based thrills? Jordan Peele's Nope is currently streaming on Peacock.