Cast Members Drugged, High During Filming of James Cameron’s “Titanic”

james cameron leo dicaprio kate winslet titanic
Credit: Flickr/NatGeo/Canva

James Cameron’s newest film, Avatar: The Way of Water, has been all the talk at the box office in recent months, and fans are looking forward to further installments in the wildly successful film franchise. But recent events have fans more focused on a different branch of Cameron’s impressive resume–one that bares the film he made that retells the story of a landmark event in history–a movie 85 years in the making at the time of its debut.

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Credit: Disney

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In 1996, Cameron and his crew were working tirelessly on his newest film, Titanic, starring Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Paxton, and Billy Zane–the film that had audiences reliving the horror of the dark hours of April 14, 1912, when the RMS Titanic disappeared under the waves nearly 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean.

Cameron and his team were in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to film the framing device scenes for the movie featuring the late Bill Paxton as the expedition leader who discovers Rose’s blue necklace at the bottom of the sea.

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James Cameron's Bill Paxton Tribute: “We Shared Many Adventures” – The Hollywood Reporter

Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

As Variety reported it, “all hell broke loose” on August 9, 1996, when part of the crew provided clam chowder for the team to enjoy while on set. But this was no ordinary clam chowder.

“We had a room for the grips and electricians, and one of the guys started talking really hyper,” said one of the crew members, Jake Clarke, said of the night the crew got high off the clam chowder. “He’s a big guy, like six-four, and he says, ‘Do you guys feel okay? Because I don’t. I feel like I’m on something, and believe me, I would know.’ He was just chattering on like that. And just as he was saying this, we saw James Cameron run by the door and this extra running behind him. He said, ‘There’s something in me! Get it out!’”

Were Cast and Crew on the Film 'Titanic' Sickened by PCP-Laced Seafood Chowder? | Snopes.com

The culprit behind the PCP-infused chowder was never discovered. The stars of the film, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, did not eat any of the chowder since they were not on location in Nova Scotia. Actor Bill Paxton, however, was on set–and did eat the soup.

DiCaprio and Winslet with their arms outstretched on the edge of the ship during the famous "I'm flying" scene

Credit: Paramount

“Bill Paxton was a real sweetie,” said set decorator Claude Roussel. “He was sitting next to me in the hallway of the hospital, and he was kind of enjoying the buzz. Meanwhile, grips were going down the hallway doing wheelies in wheelchairs.”

Bill Paxton on the Alternate Ending of 'Titanic' That Audiences Didn't See in 1997

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Several of the crew members on the set of Titanic were sent to Dartmouth General Hospital. In an interview from 2009 with Vanity Fair, James Cameron recalled moments from that day in August 1996, saying, “People [were] moaning and crying, wailing, collapsed on tables and gurneys. The DP, Caleb Deschanel, [was] leading a number of the crew down the hall in a highly vocal conga line.”

Upon remembering that day, Cameron reportedly said, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!