James Cameron used Aliens and The Terminator franchise to cement himself as one of the most formidable directors in Hollywood, and that status means he has the luxury of being able to pull off things the rest of us can only dream of.
For example, when he decided he wanted to fulfill his dream of visiting the shipwreck of the HMS Titanic, he decided there was no better way to check that off the bucket list than convincing the folks at Paramount and 20th Century Fox to give him $200 million to make a movie based on the fateful maiden voyage of the supposedly “unsinkable” ship.
It was obviously a somewhat risky bet, but it paid off in a big way, as Titanic became the first movie to eclipse the $1 billion mark at the box office en route to racking up the $1.84 billion it made over the course of its original theatrical run.
The filming of the epic was an unreal undertaking that involved a life-sized replica of the ship and 160 grueling days of shooting that saw a number of actors battling illnesses stemming from the frigid waters they spend hours submerged in (as well as the stress that came with working under the infamously—and unapologetically tyrannical—director).
Many people believe Cameron’s ability to make enemies on set contributed to the infamous incident that saw him and dozens of crew members and actors (including Bill Paxton) end up in a hospital in Nova Scotia after helping themselves to fish chowder they eventually discovered had been laced with PCP.
The director recently recounted what went down on that fateful day during an interview on Q With Tom Power where he recounted the bizarre saga that was initially chalked up to a case of food poisoning.
Here’s what he had to say:
“You haven’t lived until you’ve been high on PCP—which by the way, I do not recommend to anyone, even stoners…
There was an emergency room with no one in it and, like, a nurse, and 85 crew members walk in. We think we have neural shellfish poisoning that kills you. We don’t know what’s going on. And, basically, somebody had taken a pound of PCP and dumped it into the chowder.”
He also disputed the notion he was the primary factor in motivating the still-unknown soul who spiked the chowder with a bunch of PCP, saying:
“We believe the story is it was someone who had a beef with the caterers…The operating theory was I was such a psycho maniac that they were trying to get back at me, but I reject that theory out of hand for obvious reasons.”
James Cameron has lived a wild life.