The Cocaine Bear actor’s story of playing a killer beast is the best thing on the internet today

Allan Henry is the human behind the Cocaine Bear. (Universal Pictures)

From Jungle Book to The Hobbit, stunt performer Allan Henry has brought everything to life — but Cocaine Bear has been his most unique challenge yet.

Henry is the face behind the titular star of Cocaine Bear, the new horror-comedy that has gripped audiences with its tale of a 500-pound bear that terrorises tourists, criminals and locals in a Georgian forest after consuming copious amounts of cocaine.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the film stars Ray Liotta, Keri Russel and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who all faced off with Henry in the place of a murderous, drug-addicted beast.

Affectionately dubbing his character “Cokey”, Henry explained to Variety how bringing the chaotic bear to life required some deep introspection.

“On films like the Apes trilogy or Godzilla vs. Kong, there’s something more human about those characters because of their enhanced intelligence and their greater experience, whereas Cokey is just a bear,” Henry said.

Although he slightly retracted, adding: “Well, I shouldn’t say just a bear. Cokey is a bear.”

You may like to watch

“The challenge was trying to move as close as I could to how a bear would move, the pace that a bear would take, the way that a bear would breathe and explore the environment around them,” he continued.

In order to truly capture the essence of the character, he turned to cinema’s most renowned bears, including the infamous snarling creature from Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Revenant and, of course, the beloved Baloo from The Jungle Book.

Given Henry worked on The Jungle Book during his years as a stunt performer, he was already on the right track for Cocaine Bear. However, he was nothing if not thorough in his preparation, explaining that he wanted to truly tap into humankind’s symbiotic relationship with the mighty creature.

“A lot of it was nature documentaries and CCTV footage and camera footage of people who were like, ‘there’s a bear in my backyard tearing up my car,'” he explained.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Cocaine Bear. (Universal Pictures)

On the more technical side, Henry shared an image of himself wearing his stunt gear, which included a silicone bear snout and mouth “with little ping pong balls for eyes so that I can manipulate it and move it from my neck”.

The purpose? “When Cokey interacts with the environment or with other actors, I can nuzzle them and move against them without causing any damage because the silicone is soft and moves the same way that skin would move,” he explained.

Regardless of Henry’s unorthodox methods, it’s clearly paying off, as the film has smashed box office expectations by clawing $23 million in its opening weekend.

That should be a relief to Banks, who previously told Variety: “Cocaine Bear is a ginormous risk… this could be a career-ender for me.”

Cocaine Bear is out in cinemas now.

Please login or register to comment on this story.