Released in 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic was a box-office smash that has stood the test of time to become one of the most fondly remembered blockbusters of the era. Though audiences fondly remember the film, those who worked on the movie have a different perspective. There were numerous incidents during the production of the movie where things went haywire, and there were times when members of the cast and crew wanted to leave. One of the most notable incidents that caused havoc on the set of Titanic involved clam chowder that no one realized was spiked with PCP. Join Facts Verse as the Titanic cast speaks out after being drugged during production.
Titanic Wasn’t an Easy Movie to Film
Filming a great movie isn’t always easy. Ask any of the people that were on the set of James Cameron’s 1997 masterpiece Titanic and they’ll tell you as much. Even when everything on set was going the way that it was supposed to, the filming of the memorable blockbuster wasn’t easy. The cast and crew had to film under tough conditions, and James has always been a perfectionist. On the best of days, filming Titanic was chore. However, there were multiple times during production where things got so bad for those working on the set of the film that they wanted to pack up and leave.
There are many interesting stories involving crazy incidents that happened on the set of Titanic. However, the most interesting of these stories would have to be the one involving a drugged batch of clam chowder. The incident occurred on August 9, 1996, just a month after the movie had started filming. It was fairly early on in the shoot, and the scenes that were being shot were the ones comprising the film’s framing device. As fans of the movie will remember, Titanic begins and ends with a modern-day framing device featuring the elderly incarnation of Kate Winslet’s Rose tracking down her iconic locket with the help of Bill Paxton.
The framing device scenes were shot in Nova Scotia, and they required neither Kate Winslet nor Leonardo DiCaprio to be on set. Because of this, neither of Titanic’s leads was present during the memorable drugging episode. The most notable people that were present during the incident included the aforementioned Bill Paxton, as well as James Cameron himself. As is typical with the sets of Hollywood movies, the cast and crew of Titanic were given plenty of sustenance during filming in the form of catering. It was by means of the catered food that this drugging incident occurred.
How the Cast and Crew of Titanic Was Drugged
One of the options being served up by the catering team to the cast and crew of Titanic on August 9, 1996, just so happened to be clam chowder. Clam chowder can be pretty tasty, and it made a lot of sense to serve up seafood while working on the set of the epic nautical adventure. However, the problem with clam chowder is that it’s really easy to spike! Unbeknownst to the cast and crew, someone had spiked the clam chowder with PCP. The catering company was never able to figure out how PCP ended up in the soup, but the effect was clear. One crewmember in particular, named Jake Clarke, has reminisced about when he first realized that there was something up with his mates.
According to Titanic crewmember Jake Clarke, he first became aware that something was up when one of his fellow crewmembers started acting exceptionally hyper. Jake claims that this crewmember was a large man with a height of around 6’ 4”, so his strange behavior was all the more notable. This crewmember started acting strange, and then he said that he felt like he was on something. Jake and his fellow crewmember were hanging out in a tent, and the very next moment James Cameron came whizzing past the entrance of the tent. As Jake recalls, James was screaming something along the lines of “there’s something in me!”
As one might imagine, the consequences of the cast and crew of Titanic suddenly finding themselves under the influence of a hard drug were pretty striking. As we’ve already established, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio weren’t present, but Bill Paxton was. According to those who were there, Bill Paxton took the drugging in stride. It has long-since been common knowledge that Bill is a bit of a stoner, and it appears that he took the opportunity of the drugging to chill out and have a pot party. The marijuana helped take the edge off the PCP high, and Bill ended up having a pretty good time. James Cameron wasn’t interested in sharing any of his star’s marijuana, but the director ended up finding his own medium for taking the edge off the PCP high. While Bill was smoking weed, James drank scotch.
The Cast and Crew Tried to Come Down from Their High
James Cameron and Bill Paxton ended up coming to terms with being drugged on the set of Titanic by seeking solace from other substances. Meanwhile, other members of the cast and crew of the blockbuster film ended up leaning into the PCP high. According to people that were there, many of the members of the cast and crew became involved in a conga line during the drugging incident. Titanic’s director of photography, who was a man by the name of Caleb Deschanel, apparently led this conga line. Sadly, there were also plenty of members of Titanic’s cast and crew that weren’t able to get ahold of themselves after being drugged.
Though many of the people who accidentally ingested PCP on the set of Titanic ended up having a good time, there were plenty of other members of the cast and crew that felt like they were in hell as a result of the drugging. At the same time that the aforementioned conga line was going on, you could apparently hear screams of pain in the background. Many people who found themselves under the influence of the hard drug on the film’s set ended up freaking out, and there were even said to be a few people who ended up collapsing. Aforementioned crewmember Jake Clarke claims that things on the set of Titanic didn’t cool off until the next morning. Jake never ate any of the drugged clam chowder, but he did end up smoking a joint with Bill Paxton. As per Jake’s testimony, Bill’s eyes had become blood red.
The cast and crew of Titanic eventually recovered from the drugging incident, and the event never repeated. However, there were numerous unrelated setbacks that occurred on the set of the blockbuster film before all was over and done. There are numerous stories of tension on the set, including rumors of feud between James Cameron and Kate Winslet. According to legend, James came up with a disparaging nickname for his leading lady on the set of the film, and that nickname was “Kate Weighs-a-Lot”. It’s unclear why James felt that need to treat his lead actress this way, but some have theorized it was because of the extravagant lengths the actress went to secure her role during pre-production.
There Were Other Tensions on the Set of Titanic
Another relationship that grew tense on the set of Titanic was the one between stars Kate Winslet and Billy Zane. Of course, Billy played the potential romantic interest that Kate’s character ends up leaving for Leonardo’s. Fans will recall the tense moment in the film wherein Kate’s character spits in the face of Billy’s. It may surprise viewers to learn that not only was this improvised, but that Billy had no idea the spit was coming. The spit was unscripted, and Kate didn’t warn her fellow performer that she was going to try something new. Because of this, the reaction that Billy gives to Kate’s saliva in the film is likely 100% authentic.
The set of Titanic was very controlled, and director James Cameron certainly knew what he wanted. However, that doesn’t mean that the director wasn’t open to some sporadic moments of improvisations from his performers. In addition to Kate Winslet’s improvised spit take, there was also a notable moment that Billy Zane himself improvised. That moment would be the scene in which his character flips over a table while trying to intimate Kate Winslet’s Rose. While Kate got the drop on Billy with her improvised spitting, Billy ended up surprising her back with his improvised table flip.
The most difficult part of filming Titanic was all the water. However, the water wasn’t nearly as deep as it ended up looking in the film. For the most part, the pools that were used to simulate the ocean during the filming of the blockbuster were only around three feet in depth. Still, it wasn’t a lot of fun for the performers to have to stay in this water for extended periods. The worst part seems to be the fact that James Cameron was stingy about bathroom breaks. When James refused to let his performers go to the bathroom, they would simply relive themselves in the pools.
Leonardo DiCaprio Almost Lost His Pet Lizard
Another memorable incident that occurred on the set of Titanic involved Leonardo DiCaprio and his pet lizard. At the time that Leonard was filming the movie, there were few living creatures more precious to the star than his pet lizard. Because of this, Leonardo made sure that he could bring his lizard to set with him. This resulted in an incident wherein the lizard was almost run over by a car! According to legend, Leonardo’s lizard escaped and started running wild on the set. When this happened, the lizard ran into a car and almost got squished! The lizard ended up getting injured, but the injury was small enough that he was soon back to full health.
With pools full of pee, free-roaming lizards, and members of the cast and crew running around on PCP, it sounds like the set of James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic was the place to be! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that the cast and crew of James Cameron’s Titanic were drugged early on during filming, and that the director refused to let anyone on the set use the bathroom? Comment down below!