Did You Know That There Was a Poisoning on the Set of ‘Titanic’?

Hollywood is full of mysteries. Celebrity deaths, onscreen mishaps, and weird rumors have propelled the entertainment epicenter of the world for decades. While some mysteries are well-publicized, like what or who caused Natalie Wood’s death, others are relegated to a footnote. While Titanic was a massive blockbuster hit, very few people remember that a large portion of the crew was poisoned during filming, and the culprit remains at large.

Between 60 and 80 crew members were poisoned on the set of Titanic

During a catered lunch on the set of Titanic, between 60 and 80 cast and crew members indulged in clam chowder. The food, which was brought in by a catering company, seemed fine at first, recalled several crew members, but within 15 minutes, things started to go terribly wrong. The crew was transported, from the set, to an area hospital for treatment.

Some who had ingested the food assumed they had food poisoning. When they turned up at the hospital, however, it became evident that food poisoning wasn’t the issue.  Weeks later, the Halifax police department issued a statement. The cast and crew of Titanic had been drugged. According to Entertainment Weekly, PCP was slipped into the chowder that many of the crewmembers ate.

While some believe a disgruntled food service worker was to blame for the poisoning, the catering company denied the allegations. Hollywood experts have suggested an angered crew member, sick of James Cameron’s tyrannical behavior, was specifically gunning for the famed director of the film. Police have never found the culprit, and have stated that there is no evidence to suggest a specific crew member was being targeted. No one was seriously harmed in the incident, and filming continued, without incident, the following day.

Bill Paxton and James Cameron were among those sickened

The majority of those who were sickened in the incident were behind-the-scenes crew members, but two big names also experienced symptoms. Both Bill Paxton and Cameron were poisoned.  Paxton, who is well known for his work on Twister and HBO’s Big Love, played treasure hunter, Brock Lovett, in the movie.

In an interview, Paxton recalled the poisoning. He noted that he felt fine one moment, and the next, he was so anxious that he could barely control himself. He was treated at a hospital before being released the same night. Paxton noted that he rarely ate with the crew, and had initially had plans to indulge in Italian food back in his dressing room, but was drawn in by the chowder. Paxton died in 2017 from a stroke following open-heart surgery.

Some false rumors are circulating about the incident

The 1996 incident was undoubtedly troubling, but in recent years, some incorrect information has been distributed about precisely what happened. While it is true that several members of the cast and crew became ill after eating clam chowder, the incident did not occur on the last day of filming, and Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were not taken to the hospital because of the tainted food. In fact, DiCaprio and Winslet were not even on set the day of the incident.

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Snopes notes that several Facebook posts have suggested both Winslet and DiCaprio were sickened by eating the laced chowder and that a disgruntled crewmember was targeting the onscreen duo. Another story circulating around social media suggested the crew was dosed with LCD. That was not the case. Police identified the agent as PCP, or, as it is known on the streets, angel dust.