"It was a very important component," Alden Ehrenreich says of his Cocaine Bear character's mullet-esque hair 'do, which should tell you all you need to know about the wacky tone of the 80s-set horror comedy. "We'd gotten all the costumes together and I got the mullet. We tested the mullet and it was like, 'We're definitely using the mullet'. It all just adds such a crazy, fun element to it and makes it seem like a throwback to, like, Goonies and that era."
Described by director Elizabeth Banks as an homage to the films she grew up on, Cocaine Bear centers on a ragtag group of people; a single mother trying to find her truant daughter (Keri Russell), a no-nonsense park ranger (Margo Martindale), a well-meaning detective (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a trio of young punks, and Ehrenreich and Jackson's drug dealers.
Each with their own reason for being in Georgia's expansive Chattahoochee National Forest, the characters soon find themselves crossing paths with a crazed bear that's ingested a planeload of the titular white powder, and will stop at nothing to get her next fix.
Early on in the film, which was inspired by true events and penned by The Babysitter: Killer Queen scribe Jimmy Warden, it's established that Eddie (Ehrenreich) has recently left the smuggling business behind, and palmed his young son off on his dad, following the death of his wife Joanie.
But when his former boss Syd (Ray Liotta), who also happens to be his father, discovers that a missing stash worth $14 million has been dumped in the woods, Eddie is forced to push his grief aside and venture into the wilderness with his prickly, pushy pal Daveed (Jackson) to find it. During the hike, which turns into a wild fight for survival, the tension between the two breaks down – and a few of their scenes are surprisingly emotional for something this unashamedly silly.
"We're lucky to have those parts. It allows us to really show what we got. I knew coming in that Alden was going to be prepared – and that challenges you as an individual to come prepared, because you want to be there for each other," Jackson explains to GamesRadar+.
"We know we got to carry the heartfelt part of this insane world and the better your chemistry off camera, the better it shows up on screen. Me and him got along from the jump, from day one. I love the journey that [Eddie and Daveed] go through as friends, our brotherhood in the criminal world, and that we finally reach a point of understanding and saying that we need each other if we're going to make it out of this," he continues.
Lining up to work with Banks
When thinking about filming the more intimate moments of the movie, Jackson says it helped that their leader behind the camera knows exactly what it's like to be on the other side of it. A self-proclaimed "huge fan" of Banks, the actor also recalls the time he ran into her one day at "some snooty award show" many years ago, and how they've been keen to collaborate ever since.
"I told her my favorite movie of hers was Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and she immediately goes, 'That movie is very inappropriate.' I said, 'Well, that's me.' From then on, we wanted to work together," he remembers. "I saw that she got the rights to Cocaine Bear in a tweet. I retweeted that and that's kind of what got me my calls. She was like, 'You know, we could finally work together.' So I jumped on it.
"She's a fellow actor so she kind of knows your language, she knows how to talk to you. She's very welcoming, very open to collaboration and creatively, she looks at you as a teammate, you know? It was great to work with Elizabeth. I love this second part of her career that she's gone on and I think Cocaine Bear is a smash and I'm happy for her. I feel blessed that we got to work with her."
While Cocaine Bear has only just hit screens, there have already been calls for a sequel. Just recently, New Zealand police found 3.5 tons of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean, which has led some Twitter users to joke about it being the basis of a follow-up: Cocaine Shark. Without hesitation, Jackson and Ehrenreich admit that they'd reprise their respective roles in a heartbeat.
"Listen, as long as I get to work with Elizabeth and Alden again, I'm down for whatever they throw at us," enthuses Jackson. "Me too," Ehrenreich chimes in, before laughing: "I think it was really smart of the studio to put all that cocaine in the ocean. Great promo."
Cocaine Bear is out in UK and US cinemas now. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies coming our way throughout 2023 and beyond.