Bill Paxton was a Hollywood legend, heavily involved in some of the best movies ever made; Aliens, Titanic, and Apollo 13. A frequent James Cameron collaborator, Bill Paxton became beloved for his small-but-memorable roles in major franchises like Terminator and Predator, but was equally capable of leading a blockbuster like Twister.
However, it was during the making of Cameron’s Titanic that Paxton had one of the most bizarre experiences of his career, after he and the rest of the crew were poisoned by a still-unknown culprit.
“That’s kind of a crazy story,” said Paxton, while speaking on Larry King Now. “I didn’t care for the catering much so I was ordering my meals in, but I was having a good conversation with Jim Cameron on the set. I said, ‘Jim are you going to eat on the set tonight?’ and he said, ‘Yeah,’ so I joined him.”
Paxton would go on to regret the decision, though. “So we ladled up the clam chowder not knowing it was laced with PCP,” he said. “I remember going back to my trailer after lunch and Jim went up to his office, I heard a commotion and I opened up my door and saw ambulances pulling in.”
As it turned out, the whole batch of the notorious clam chowder had been spiked with PCP, which the rest of the movie’s crew would also eat. Paxton then recalled how the incident led to pandemonium.
“Some people are freaking out, some people are conga dancing, some people are euphoric. I knew I was pretty stoned on something pretty bad… Me and Jim thought [maybe] there was a neurotoxin in the clams.”
Their suspicions about the innocent molluscs were unfounded, though, as it was later confirmed that the food had been intentionally laced with the drug. As for the culprit? “I don’t know who did it, or why,” shared Paxton, and the mystery remains unresolved to this day.
Still, it wouldn’t stop the cast and crew going on to make one of the best James Cameron movies.
For more on Paxton, you can find out how he still holds one of the most gruesome records in Hollywood.