Elizabeth Banks is reflecting on Ray Liotta — and how happy he was about acting in his last film before his death in May.
The “Cocaine Bear” director spoke fondly about Liotta while attending her latest film’s premiere in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and said he was “laughing” and was “so happy” as he reviewed his scenes. “Cocaine Bear” was the last film Liotta completed before dying in his sleep at 67.
“He never saw the final movie, but he did see all of his scenes,” Banks told ET as she talked about the challenge of filming with a computer-generated bear. “And he saw the bear, which is the most important thing, because the poor guy like everyone had to act with … a guy in a black suit and a stuntman and just sort of hope that it looks cool.”
The kinetic action-thriller revolves around a black bear that weighs 500 pounds and goes on a bloody rampage. It’s reportedly based on true events from 1985, when a bear discovered a sizable cocaine stash. The trailer looks as funny as it does difficult to direct.
Filming involving a CGI animal provided Banks with its own set of challenges. They included audio captured on set that later needed automated dialogue replacement, or ADR.
“He came in for ADR eight days before he passed away, actually, and he loved it,” Banks said, recalling how Liotta rerecorded some of his lines. “He was so happy. He was laughing. It was just delightful.”
Banks amassed an impressive acting career before climbing into the director’s chair with “Pitch Perfect 2” in 2015. Known for roles in films like “W.” and “The Hunger Games,” Banks said it was her passion for acting that actually drew her to direct “Cocaine Bear” in the first place.
“I loved the script!” Banks told ET. “I’m an actor first. And there were so many great characters in this film. There’s so much going on besides the bear. And I hope that’s what people take away from it — that they find someone sort of relatable in the movie.”
“Cocaine Bear” hits theaters on Feb. 24.