The production on the hit drama movie Titanic wasn’t all plain sailing, after its director James Cameron was reportedly drugged during the shoot by an angry crew member. The disaster movie may have made a boat load of money at the box-office, but the whole thing could have been pushed off course by one disgruntled employee.
The movie based on a true story recounts the events of the maiden voyage of the great RMS Titanic ship, which set sail in 1912 and never made it back thanks to a huge iceberg. The ‘90s movie stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, and for a very long time, was the highest-grossing movie ever made, until James Cameron beat himself with the science fiction movie Avatar.
In an archived piece with The Times from 2009, Cameron fields questions about that game-changing movie, but perhaps more fascinating is the story of the filmmaker being spiked on the set of Titanic. Apparently, the crew member had laced a batch of soup with PCP, and ended up hospitalising around 50 members of the cast and crew.
According to the article, Cameron had managed to vomit the soup out of his system before the drugs took hold. Nevertheless, one of his actors recalled how the director didn’t look too good after the incident.
“I was just shocked at the way he looked. One eye was completely red, like the Terminator eye,” the actor reportedly stated. “A pupil, no iris, beet red. The other eye looked like he’d been sniffing glue since he was four.”
The story appears to corroborate the idea that Cameron was, at the time, the “scariest man in Hollywood.” The process of making Titanic involved a lot of screaming and shouting, and led Kate Winslet to admit she was “genuinely frightened of him”.
Bill Paxton, a long-time collaborator and friend of Cameron’s admitted he wasn’t particularly surprised that someone was upset with the director: “There were a lot of disgruntled people on the set. Jim is not one of those guys who has the time to win hearts and minds.”
Cameron himself clearly didn’t worry too much about pissing people off, saying, “Filmmaking is war. A great battle between business and aesthetics.” Whatever his methods, Cameron very rarely gets it wrong.