Jimmy Warden Talks Writing Cocaine Bear and Making Movies with Samara Weaving
Feb 18, 2023
Gearing up for its theatrical premiere this month, Cocaine Bear has manage to conjure up quite a bit of attention ahead of its release. With an eye-catching title and a bizarre yet compelling premise, the movie is, oddly enough, inspire by a true story. Elizabeth Banks directs the action-packed dark comedy using a screenplay penned by Jimmy Warden.
In the movie, an American black bear finds and consumes hundreds of pounds of cocaine. It takes inspiration from the true story of a bear found dead of an overdose after ingesting a large amount of cocaine that had been discarded in the woods by a drug runner, adding the twist of having the animal embarking on a vicious, bloody rampage while fueled by the drug. Ray Liotta posthumously appears in one of his final roles in the film, with the movie also starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, and Christian Convery.
As we move closer to the film’s release, Warden has spoken with MovieWeb about how Cocaine Bear came to be, along with its potential sequel or spinoff chances. We also talk about Warden’s upcoming directorial debut film, Borderline, as well as what else the filmmaker has in store for the future with Roscoe Pictures, the production company he co-founded with his wife Samara Weaving. You can read the conversation in full below.
Cocaine Bear Takes Inspiration from True Events
MovieWeb: Cocaine Bear is inspired by a bizarre true story. When did you become aware of that story, and how soon after that did you know that it needed to become a film?
Jimmy Warden: I became fascinated by the true story at some point in early 2019. I think I knew immediately that I wanted to write the script. I let the idea sit for a bit before I started writing but once I did, it didn’t take long. But I never ever ever ever thought anyone would make it.
MovieWeb: One key difference with the true story is that the bear didn’t maim anyone in reality. That we know of, anyway. Were there ever plans early on to keep the film more dramatic or investigative in nature rather than going all-in with the violent mayhem?
JW: I thought I’d leave the actual true events to podcasts and docs. I was fascinated by Andrew Carter Thornton but I’m probably not the best person to write that story. What I really loved about the story was the plausibility of it all. A bear ate a bunch of cocaine. That really happened. And since the insanity of what I was creating started with an actual incident, it was able to ground the entire thing in reality. Nobody could ever say, “Good title but that would never happen. A bear, doing cocaine? Psh.” Yeah, well, it did happen! It’s a great inciting incident. And the bear dying immediately would be a pretty short movie (as well as extremely sad), so this is my weird fantasy about what could have happened if the bear had survived.
Related: Cocaine Bear Gets an 8-Bit Tie-In Video Game That’s Free to Play
Will Cocaine Bear Gets a Spinoff or Sequel?
MovieWeb: Elizabeth Banks seems intrigued by doing a sequel called Cocaine Shark in response to a recent news story about tons of cocaine getting dropped into the ocean. Would that be something you’d be interested in doing?
JW: I’m not done with the Cocaine Bear saga yet but, as for spinoffs, I’ve seen some great ideas in the corners of the internet. It feels like we’ll have every animal in existence do cocaine until we come full circle and just make movies about humans doing it again. Then we’ll move on to MDMA and ayahuasca, etc. There’s no limit.
MovieWeb: How about a direct sequel to Cocaine Bear? Any chance of Cocaine Bear 2: Zom-Bear?
JW: The great James Cameron came to me in a dream and carved “Cocaine Bear$” on my chest with a knife, so I guess we have to make more. James Cameron said so. And there are definitely some ideas I have floating around. P.S. If you’re interested in seeing a Zom-Bear, Alex Garland’s Annihilation has a vicious one. P.P.S., James, if you’re reading this, I have a great pitch for Cocaine Bear on Pandora.
MovieWeb: While we’re talking sequels, I’ve got to ask. What’s the status of The Babysitter 3?
JW: That’s more of a Brian Duffield/McG question. Although I’d be first in line to see whatever they cook up together.
Related: Cocaine Bear TV Spot Reveals More of the Drug-Fueled, Grizzly Chaos
Jimmy Warden Teases His Directorial Debut Film
MovieWeb: I know you co-founded the production company Roscoe Pictures with your wife, Samara Weaving. What led to you two making movies together and venturing into this aspect of the business, and how’s it been going so far?
JW: It’s been going really well. We’ve started to put together a slate of projects that we’re really excited about. The production company is a chance for us to work together and make the kinds of things we love to see. And we just have a lot of fun throwing ideas around. The great thing about Samara is she’s my favorite person in the world. So the company is really just an excuse to hang out with her during work hours and expense all our meals.
MovieWeb: You’re set to make your directorial debut with Borderline. What can you tell us about that film?
JW: We’re finishing it right now, and I’m really happy with it. We’ve been describing it as a “violently romantic comedy.” It’s funny and violent but weirdly kind of sweet. It has insanely good performances by Samara, Ray Nicholson, Jimmie Fails, Alba Baptista, and Eric Dane. The entire cast is great. I’m really excited for people to see it.
MovieWeb: What’s next for Jimmy Warden? And is there anything else in the works at Roscoe Pictures you can share for our readers to look forward to?
JW: I’m finishing a crazy zombie movie and also a script that can be best described as “High School Musical in Hell.” I’m figuring out what I’m going to write next and also what I’m going to direct next.
Cocaine Bear will be released in movie theaters on Feb. 24, 2023.
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