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Keri Russell and Ray Liotta Round Out Cast of Elizabeth Banks Thriller ‘Cocaine Bear’

Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have also joined the Universal film

Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have joined the cast of Universal’s “Cocaine Bear,” which Elizabeth Banks will direct, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will produce, according to an individual with knowledge of the project.

“Cocaine Bear” will be Banks’ third feature after last directing “Charlie’s Angels” in 2019 and “Pitch Perfect 3” from 2015. “Cocaine Bear” is based on a true story of events that took place in Kentucky in 1985. Jimmy Warden wrote the spec screenplay on which the film will be based.

The film’s story is inspired by a New York Times article and is exactly what the title suggests – about a 175-pound black bear that died after ingesting a duffel bag full of cocaine. The cocaine had been dropped out of an airplane by a convicted smuggler because he was carrying too heavy a load.

Production on “Cocaine Bear” is set to begin August 23 in Ireland.

Lord and Miller are producing “Cocaine Bear” along with Aditya Sood, the president of the Lord Miller banner, who also brought the project to the studio. Elizabeth Banks is also producing, along with Brian Duffield and Max Handelman via their Brownstone Productions banner. Matt Reilly, Universal’s EVP of production, and Christine Sun, creative executive, will oversee on behalf of the studio. Robin Fisichella will executive produce.

Banks and Brownstone are represented by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, Relevant, and Ziffren Brittenham LLP. Lord Miller is represented by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham LLP. Russell is represented by WME, Burstein Company, Viewpoint and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern. Liotta is represented by Gersh, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Viewpoint. Ehrenreich is represented by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Relevant, and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson. Jackson is represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham LLP. Ferguson is represented by ICM Partners, Gartner Group Entertainment and Mitch Smelkinson at GGSSC

Deadline first reported the news.