James Cameron recalls a hilarious PCP-laced incident that derailed Titanic shoot with cast and crew high on PCP

FP Staff

Sep 18, 2019 12:31:49 IST

James Cameron's Titanic is one of the most celebrated films of all time. The film is known for many things, from launching the Hollywood careers of A-liters Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to horrid accidents which plagued the sets. However, there remains a story unsolved and mind-blogging that runs down as deep as the mysterious drowning of the ship: a hilarious tale of spiked-chowder.

 James Cameron recalls a hilarious PCP-laced incident that derailed Titanic shoot with cast and crew high on PCP

A still of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. Image from Twitter @historylvrsclub

Vanity Fair recalls how the cast and crew of Titanic got high (unintentionally, we suppose) on PCP during the shoot. As the tale goes, on the night of 8 August, 1996, the cast and crew had just broken for a meal break, and were served catered food, which also contained the chowder. Titanic stars Bill Paxton and Suzy Amis, director Cameron, and more than 60 other crew members were in the midst of wrapping a scene, when they were suddenly overcome with the need to vomit, laugh, and cry. However, it seems like we cannot really trust the chowder because in a 1996 interview, Paxton told Entertainment Weekly, “One minute I felt Okay, the next minute I felt so goddamn anxious I wanted to breathe in a paper bag. Cameron was feeling the same way."

Cameron recalled being feeling 'distinctively woozy,' and decided to step out and vomit. When he returned on set, he found no one around because naturally everyone, who had consumed the food, were physically unwell. The hospital staff, and even Cameron believed they had come in contact with paralytic shellfish neurotoxin, and were experiencing food poisoning, but a toxicology report from the Halifax Police Department revealed the truth: everyone was high on PCP. Now, PCP, also known as angel dust, causes hallucinations, distorted perceptions of sounds, and violent behaviour.

The set was a havoc with the team running high out of their minds. They were shuttled to the nearest hospital, but things were eventually beyond control. Cameron later states people were moaning, wailing, laughing, and crying, collapsed on tables and gurneys. He also recalls being stabbed in the face with a pen by a crew member (“I’m sitting there bleeding and laughing”), watching helplessly as his crew fell apart.

Though the case was eventually closed in 1999, with no suspects to pinpoint, Cameron, on the other hand, believes it was a disgruntled production member who had recently been let go. “We had fired a crew member the day before because they were creating trouble with the caterers,” he told Vanity Fair. “So we believe the poisoning was this idiot’s plan to get back at the caterers, whom of course we promptly fired the next day. So it worked.”

Well, Titanic went on to the create a massive dent at the box office, with prestigious awards and accolades at the desk. Hence, the takeaway from the iconic tale must be, the age-old wisecrack, work hard to party harder?

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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2019 12:31:49 IST