Did the Bear From the Will Ferrell Comedy Semi-Pro Kill Its Trainer?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND:Just months after being filmed for a scene in the Will Ferrell comedy, Semi-Pro, a bear killed its trainer.

In 2008, the Will Ferrell comedy, Semi-Pro, was released.

The movie was about an American Basketball Association team in Flint, Michigan, owned by Will Ferrell’s character (who is also the coach AND plays for the team) that is not doing very well with the fans. When the ABA announces that they are closing up shop and only four teams will be allowed to merge into the NBA, Ferrell’s character, Jackie Moon, comes up with various outlandish stunts to raise attendance so that his Flint Tropics team might have a shot at making the NBA.

One of these ridiculous stunts is that he, Jackie Moon, will wrestle a bear.

Here is the trained grizzly bear named Rocky that Ferrell’s character was to wrestle…

In the film, one of Rocky’s two trainers, Randy Miller, (two cousins, Randy and Stephan Miller, who both worked for Randy Miller’s animal training company, “Predators in Action”) stood in for Ferrell in the scenes where the bear fights with Ferrell’s character…

The film was released in February of 2008.

In April of 2008, Stephan Miller was dead, killed by Rocky the Bear!

In just a normal training exercise, the seven and a half foot tall, seven hundred pound bear just reached over and snapped its jaws around Millar’s neck, opening up his throat and delivering a fatal blow to the 39-year-old man.

In an interview given around the release of the film, Randy Miller noted that “If one of these animals gets a hold of your throat, you’re finished.”

And that’s exactly what happened to his cousin.

Miller’s company is one of the most acclaimed animal training companies around, and they were fully up to code and everything – you just can’t fully predict how wild animals are going to react.

Hearing that news, though, you can only imagine what Ferrell must have been thinking, knowing that just weeks earlier he was filming a scene with the bear (although not directly interacting with it like Randy Miller was).

Months later, officials still were undecided about whether to euthanize the bear. Honestly, I can’t find out if they ultimately did so.

Does anyone know one way or the other?

The legend is…

STATUS: True

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2 Responses to “Did the Bear From the Will Ferrell Comedy Semi-Pro Kill Its Trainer?”

  1. According to this article from 2012:

    http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=2913

    “Miller has not been allowed to place “Rocky” on exhibit or use him for TV/film work since the attack four years ago. At a recent hearing by the California Fish & Game Commission on 3 October, these restrictions remained in place.”

  2. Thanks, Fred!

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