Elizabeth Banks talks Cocaine Bear: "I have delivered a film that lives up to the title"

A still of the bear from horror comedy Cocaine Bear
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Are you ready for Cocaine Bear? Probably not. Elizabeth Banks' upcoming horror has already taken the internet by storm thanks to its wild trailer. In this month's Total Film, featuring Luther: The Fallen Sun on the cover, we caught up with the director to talk through her movie – here's a snippet of what she said.

"Cocaine Bear is a horror comedy. There are a lot of horror tropes that we play with in the film. You know, it’s a bear high on cocaine attacking people! But it’s also a really fun character piece. It’s about a great group of people coming together who are very much in over their heads. Everybody is going after the drugs, and nobody realizes that the bear got there first.

"[Jimmy Warden’s script] was so unique, and I thought it really offered an opportunity for me to play on a genre that I hadn’t really considered before, and do something out of the box. My first reaction was ‘I gotta read the real story and understand how much of this is true’. Then I did a deep dive. I thought this bear was collateral damage [in] a broken war on drugs. I had a lot of empathy for it. I felt like this film could be the bear’s revenge story.


(Image credit: Cocaine Bear)

"One of the surprising themes of the film is parenting. The film is very much about fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, and protecting your cubs. That’s one of the things that drew me to it as a mom, this story of how to be the best version of a parent. The other [theme] is the sense that the war on drugs was really ramped up in the ’80s. This film takes place in 1985, which is the height of all these programmes to combat crack in America. So many of those policies went sideways, and this bear was collateral damage. Then the other thing is about nature itself. We, as humans, with our hubris, feel that we can control nature. [But] if you fuck with nature, nature will fuck with you.

"Cocaine Bear is super-entertaining. If you want to let go of everything in your life for 95 minutes, this is a great way to do that. It’s an incredible adventure. There are some really beautiful messages in it. It’s been fun to see people relate to the movie. It’s terrifying [when a film is finished and out of your hands]. That’s my horror movie right there. There’s only so much that I can control. All that being said, I’m really proud of [it]. I can sleep well at night knowing that I did my job well, and that if audiences want to see a movie called Cocaine Bear, I have delivered a film that lives up to the title."

For much more from Banks, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it his newsstands (real and digital) on Thursday, January 12. As well as Cocaine Bear, the new issue features pieces on Luther: The Fallen Sun, Knock at the Cabin, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, The Fabelmans, and much more.

Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Luther: The Fallen Sun covers

(Image credit: Netflix/Total Film)

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(Image credit: Total Film/Netflix/Paramount/Universal)
Freelance Writer

Ann is a freelance film writer and editor. Member of the London Critics, Ann has written for The Guardian, Total Film, the BFI, Radio Times, The Independent, the Telegraph, the iPaper, and more.