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An Andy Serkis-Trained Actor Is The Face Behind Cocaine Bear

Make no mistake — while "Cocaine Bear" has a fair few big name talents in its cast, the titular forest dweller on an abundance of the Schedule II narcotic is the real star of the show. Of course, no amount of bear-wrangling could allow the production team to feature a real bear for all of the wild sequences the movie features, so how did they get such a convincing version of the beast on-screen? As it turns out, the drug-addled creature was actually played by a motion capture performer with a surprisingly impressive background.

While director Elizabeth Banks was well aware of the risks involved of making a movie with such an outlandish narrative, she was nonetheless set on developing "Cocaine Bear" with serious themes and more substance than a simple heap of over-the-top animal violence. That means that she went all out on the production, insisting they recruit top-notch players including the actor who would bring the bear to life. Luckily, the perfect person was available to answer the call, and that person just happened to be a disciple of actor and motion capture performer legend Andy Serkis.

Not just anyone can be a Cocaine Bear

Elizabeth Banks hasn't been shy about telling people who brought Cocaine Bear to life in the movie. The bear performer on the feature is none other than Allan Henry, a motion capture performer who trained under Andy Serkis and Terry Notary to learn the art of portraying non-human characters. Henry sports some mean credits himself, too. He's done motion capture for some of the best superhero movies of all time, such as "Avengers: Endgame" and "Zack Snyder's Justice League," along with a slew of appearances in other major franchises like "The Hobbit" and "The Hunger Games."

According to Banks, getting a talent of Henry's caliber for the motion capture behind "Cocaine Bear" was necessary for how demanding the role was. "He walks as a quadruped on all fours [...] It takes a lot of training to do this work," the director said of Henry on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." "He is a stunt performer as well, so he can really attack and throw people around."

Portraying the murderous bear may have been tough work for Henry, but the actor seemed to enjoy his time on the production. "I had such a blast working on this film," the actor tweeted. "Elizabeth is a great director with strong dramatic and comedic instinct. I have to hand it to the VFX team at [Wētā FX]. They added so much furry, powdery glory to the work I did on set."

Allan Henry bonded with the cast and crew

While "Cocaine Bear" is a hell of a movie, shooting the film was also as surreal of an experience as one might expect — especially when it came time for the actors to shoot alongside Allan Henry. "These guys are amazing," star Keri Russell told The Daily Beast of Henry and motion capture performers in general. "But also, it is a grown man in a unitard acting like a bear in front of you."

Despite the strangeness of filming, the experience nevertheless gave Henry a chance to bond with his fellow castmates and crew members when he wasn't pretending to be a massive bear doing hard drugs. Cast member O'Shea Jackson Jr. told Digital Spy that the team took to affectionally nicknaming the bear Allan. Meanwhile, Alden Ehrenreich said Henry got his very own trailer on the set of the production, which simply featured the identifying term "bear" on its exterior.

Knowing that Henry was acting as the bear in the original footage for "Cocaine Bear" is definitely the sort of thing that might stick around in the mind of audience members on their next watch. At least, that's certainly how it turned out for the cast and crew. As Elizabeth Banks put it in an interview with Why Now: "Although there's not a frame of Allan Henry in the movie, I still feel his essence when I look at the bear."