Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere

For the Los Angeles premiere of Cocaine Bear--the dark comedy about, yes, a bear that accidentally consumes a large amount of cocaine and embarks on a drug-fueled rampage-- director Elizabeth Banks wanted to make a statement. With a film as bold and audacious as Cocaine Bear, the look needed to be equally as exciting. Cue Alaia! A last-minute decision, Banks wore a gold sequin minidress with asymmetric detailing from the Parisian fashion house, which was sourced from Harrods in London. Paired with opaque tights and platform heels, the number made for a showstopping moment on the carpet. Mission accomplished.

We caught up with Banks the next day to talk about how she knew the dress was The One, working with her glam team to complete the look, and the joys of making an outrageous movie.

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere


What were your first thoughts when you read the script for Cocaine Bear?

I fell in love with the characters. I'm an actor first, so I always read for the character journey and who they are. They were really quirky and in over their heads, and nobody knew what to do with the bear, and I just thought it seemed like such a fun romp. So it was really the tone that stuck out to me right away. It felt like a Coen brothers movie or a Quentin Tarantino movie, but with a bear. I don't know how else to explain it.

What attracts you to a project as a director vs. an actor?

I can do an acting job in a couple of months. A directing gig... I've been working on the film for... It will be nearly three years. So when it comes to directing, I have to commit my entire life to the project. I have to commit not just time and energy, but so much of my focus has to go into it. So it has to be a story that I am just dying to tell. And I feel that way about most of my acting work as well. I like acting. It's way more fun and way less pressure than directing. So I have an easier time saying yes to acting gigs than I do directing. Directing requires my whole life to come to a standstill, so it's gotta be something that I feel can really stand out and entertain a crowd. I have made three films now, and I just want to keep adding to the legacy of what I can put out into the world.

Cocaine Bear is an outrageously fun story. What was important to you in bringing it to life?

Well, the bear is number one. I have been quoted as saying this felt like it could be a career-ender, that it could be risky for me, but what I meant by that is there is a bear at the heart of this story that I have no control over. I can bring actors to set, and I can pick a great location, and I can have an amazing crew, but I really had to trust Weta to build a bear that was so credible that you would never be taken out of the movie by it. I'm so proud of the work that came out of that, and I love our bear. But that's what scared me the most about making the film.

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere


Of all the projects you have directed, what stands out to you about this one?

Oh, geez. You know, we made this during the pandemic, and I felt so grateful to be with such an incredibly warm group of humans on this beautiful island of Ireland making something we were having a blast doing. I'll remember this as really getting me through that time. I felt like, when I read this script in April 2020, the world was very chaotic, and I felt like there was no greater metaphor for the chaos all around me than a bear high on cocaine. So directing this movie was my way of taming some of that chaos for myself, of bringing people together, of reconnecting. Having that sense of connection with my cast and my crew during a time when people were not connecting, I feel like that was a big part of it for me. That's what will make the memory of making this so special.

How did it feel to premiere the film this week and see the audience's reaction?

The audience did not disappoint. Everything that we had hoped for, they did--everything from clapping at certain moments, cheering for the bear, all the jump scares and the screams, everything. The reaction in the room was electric, and I was thrilled to be a witness to it. I honestly don't often sit through premieres, and last night, I really wanted to see the audience go on the journey with these characters, and they seemed to love it. I was really gratified by that.

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere


Let's talk about what you wore to the premiere.

Oh, gosh. Well one, it was picked last-minute. It was thrown together yesterday. I loved it. I wanted to wear something that was as bold and audacious as the title of the movie Cocaine Bear. And you can't go wrong with a little sparkle.

What about this look made you say, "This is the one!"?

I'll be honest. I feel like I don't have much longer with these legs, and I threw this on. I would feel slightly inappropriate as a 49-year-old woman wearing a miniskirt, but the tights with it just felt right to me. I felt confident in that outfit showing off my legs. I don't always feel that way. You have to feel good in the clothes, right? That's the most important thing. I felt special in the dress, and it was a special night for me.

When it comes to glam, do you like to come in with ideas or leave them to your team?

We all trade pictures and look at old looks. We knew we wanted a little movement in the hair, but mostly straight, and nothing too done. I felt like the dress stood out enough, and I didn't want to overdo the hair and makeup. I'm not a model. This is not a fashion show. It's still got to feel like it's me wearing the dress and not the other way around. So we planned it that way. That dress has so much going on that we wanted a simple hair, and I liked the side part because we thought it was a little asymmetrical, which was good. And then for makeup, Fiona [Stiles] and I have been working together for more than 20 years, and I just said, "I want to feel fresh and a little bronzy" to match the gold in the dress.

Elizabeth Banks Turns Up the Glam in Gold Sequin Dress for Cocaine Bear Premiere


Is there anything you typically steer clear of on a red carpet?

I will really try anything. I think there are certain colors that with my skin tone just kind of wash me out. And I don't do a lot of nude. Nude is not for me. I really think nude after 45 is always a mistake.

You have played so many iconic characters throughout your career, from Wet Hot American Summer's Lindsay to The Hunger Games' Effie Trinket and Pitch Perfect's Gail, to name a few. Which of your character's wardrobes is your favorite and why?

Well Effie Trinket obviously comes to mind. The Catching Fire wardrobe was almost exclusively Alexander McQueen and it was unbelievable. Everything from that butterfly dress, there was a white number that she wore that looked like ice with big fur shoulders. I absolutely loved wearing everything in the Hunger Games. It's hands-down the best, in terms of fashion for sure. And in terms of comfort, I would say Zack and Miri Make a Porno, every single look was the most comfortable thing I've ever worn. It was all just cozy knits and a lot of sweaters and jeans and that is always appreciated when you are on set for long hours.

Cocaine Bear is in theaters February 24.

Team Credits:

Photography: Christian Hogstedt

Styling: Erin Walsh

Hair: Mark Townsend

Makeup: Fiona Stiles