Keri Russell and Ray Liotta join Elizabeth Banks' Cocaine Bear

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Keri Russell (Mike Coppola/Getty Images), Ray Liotta (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)
Keri Russell (Mike Coppola/Getty Images), Ray Liotta (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear, a new film based on a one-paragraph New York Times article from 1985 about a bear who did a bunch of cocaine, is assembling a predictably solid cast: According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie is going to star Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. We don’t know which one of them is playing the bear, but The Hollywood Reporter says the movie will be a “character-driven thriller” from a script by Jimmy Warden and that “exact plot details are being kept under wraps.” There’s obviously going to be some fictionalizing going on here, because the full extent of the original story is that a drug smuggler tossed a bunch of drugs out a plane and then fell to his death when his parachute wouldn’t work (because he was carrying too many drugs), and then a black bear found the drugs and died.

There are only two characters in that story, counting the bear, so it remains to be seen how Banks and Warden plan to expand on that without depriving the audience of the thing that they’re all going to the theater to see—which is to say, a bear, burying his face in a pile of cocaine like Tony Montana, then going on a rampage against all of the people who wronged him. The bear died in real life, but maybe this bear will make it? Maybe it’ll learn something about life and come away from this incident as a stronger and smarter animal? The movie can’t end with the bear finding and eating the cocaine, because then it would be called Cocaine Airplane or Cocaine Parachute, since that would comprise the bulk of the story… we just want to know more about Cocaine Bear, and one paragraph in the New York Times 40 years ago isn’t cutting it!

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