Sunday 4 December 2016

Liam Neeson snorts camomile tea - and other substances actors smoke and snort in movies

Published 05/02/2016 | 09:06

Johnny Depp in Blow
Johnny Depp in Blow
James Franco and Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express
Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction
Requiem for a Dream

Ever wonder what Johnny Depp was snorting up his nose in Blow? Or whether that cigarette Cate Blanchett draws on Carol is real?

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Prop master Jeff Butcher, who has worked on Requiem for a Dream (which features a hell of a lot of heroin injecting) and The Wrestler (ditto for cocaine), revealed all to Upvoted.

When it comes to smoking cigarettes, most actors smoked the real thing up to the 1990s before promotion of tobacco companies on film was outlawed.

“You used to be able to call up a company and say, ‘I’m doing a movie and need cigarettes,’ and they would send you a case,” said Butcher.

“For the movie Mystery Train, I remember getting a giant case of Silk Cut cigarettes and we all smoked them.”

uma thurman.jpg  

Today actors puff on herbal ciggies as they're less harmful and not addictive.  In Mad Men Butcher gave the actors Ecstasy Cigarettes.

Liam Neeson, however, is an actor who has a special herbal cigarette made for him - from camomile tea. 

“A couple years ago, I worked on Non-Stop with Liam Neeson, who is a former smoker and didn’t want to be smoking cigarettes," revealed Butcher.

"So I got vape cigarettes, which I think we ended up not using. And we made cigarettes, hand-rolled them with a machine using chamomile tea. So he smoked tea.”

For actors smoking marijuana, Butcher has used fake marijuana from International Oddities.  It was used for Pineapple Express which saw Seth Rogen and James Franco play stoned for 99 per cent of the movie.


Powdered milk and baking soda are the preferred options to stand in for cocaine but a vitamin B powder called inositol is often used instead.  It's cut with real cocaine as a cutting agent.

Mickey Rourke was not impressed with it, however, as it gives a "slight energy lift" and caused him to "freak out" on the set of The Wrestler.

“He was like, ‘I have anxiety issues—now you tell me?'” Butcher said. “He was truly upset. But he was okay a couple minutes later.”


Depicting the act of injecting heroin involves using fake syringes and often the liquids are added in with CGI.

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