Just like the ship itself, the movie Titanic appeared to be doomed while filming on location in Nova Scotia. During a meal break, the cast enjoyed seafood chowder that was reportedly so good, people went back for seconds and even thirds.
Soon after devouring the meal, 80 members of the cast and crew became ill and had to be hospitalized. Almost immediately, the shellfish was suspected as the culprit since it can contain “red tide,” a naturally occurring toxin that’s dangerous for people to consume. However, food poisoning wasn’t to blame as a health department investigation proved otherwise.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health confirmed the following day that the lobster chowder contained the hallucinogen PCP (per Vulture). At that point, health official Meredith Blake sent a letter to producer Jon Landau that said, “I have handed this investigation over to the Halifax Regional Police Service, who I’m sure will be in touch with you.”
Although the police investigated the incident, they were unable to find the culprit. Since there was no official word on who spiked the chowder or why, many theories began to surface.
Perhaps a disgruntled crew member spiked the chowder after being fired by the director. Maybe it was simply a prank that had more severe consequences than expected.
Then again, the CEO of the catering group suggested an interesting theory that someone may have just tried to start a “party thing” on the final night of filming in Nova Scotia (per Entertainment Weekly).
Although the case remains unsolved, there were some cast members who stayed away from the spiked chowder. Turns out, Kate Winslet and Leo Dicaprio were not on set during filming and didn’t touch the lobster chowder. Director James Cameron and actor Bill Paxton weren’t so lucky. They were just two of the many cast and crew who ate the spiked lunch.
Though Paxton often ordered takeout for his on-set meals, he made the mistake that night of eating the chowder because he was having “a good conversation with [director James] Cameron on the set.”
Shortly after, the actor regretted his decision when he started feeling the effects of the spike chowder and was taken to the hospital.
As he told Larry King, “Here’s 150 crew members stumbling into the emergency room at one o’clock in the morning at a very small hospital. Some people are freaking out; some people are conga dancing; some people are euphoric,” the actor recalled.
Since he was feeling fine enough amongst the chaos, Paxton returned to his trailer without treatment and soon felt better.
Thankfully, no one died or was even poisoned by the spiked chowder. However, the mystery will go on and on since the culprit has never been found.