Cocaine Bear writer pays tribute to star Ray Liotta

Ray Liotta in Cocaine Bear.Universal Pictures

Cocaine Bear features one of Ray Liotta’s final performances, and the film’s screenwriter Jimmy Warden says that working with the Goodfellas star was a career highlight.

Cocaine Bear is a wild and wacky horror that’s (very loosely) based on a true story, with the official synopsis as follows…

Inspired by the 1985 story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, this wild dark comedy finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow… and blood.

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Elizabeth Banks directs a cast that includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Margo Martindale. While the film also features one of Ray Liotta’s final performances before his passing.

Cocaine Bear screenwriter pays tribute to Ray Liotta

While the bear kills quite a few people in the movie, Ray Liotta plays Cocaine Bear’s true villain, a drug dealer called Syd, who very much wants his product back. Screenwriter Jimmy Warden said it was both an honor and thrill to work with the acting great.

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“I think that when you have Ray Liotta in a film called Cocaine Bear, it’s like, how are you not excited about that?” says Warden. “There are just certain actors where if you put them in a frame, they give you all the gravitas that you need without having to say that much.

“He’s got a bit part in the movie, and when you see him onscreen, it’s like ‘Boom.’ Drug dealer! Be afraid of this guy. That’s how good an actor he is. Then Liz calls cut and he’s the most delightful human being in the entire world.

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“I grew up on Ray Liotta movies – they’re some of my favourite movies ever – and just to watch him to come on set everyday with the same excitement I’m assuming he had when he was a younger man, was definitely a high point in my career.”

Elizabeth Banks calls Liotta an “all-time great”

While making the movie, director Elizabeth Banks said of Ray Liotta: “He’s one of the all-time greats and I felt like it was huge get for Ray to come do the movie.

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“I felt so lucky that he trusted me from minute one and that he was so game for everything. He’s so present that he makes you, the audience, believe that you are there, in these incredible places, on this adventure. I needed Ray Liotta to really ground that character, ground this movie. He did. And guess what? He’s funny, too.”

Cocaine Bear is in cinemas now, and more of our coverage can be read below…

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