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5 Movie Sets That Were Allegedly Super Toxic

Who knew this happened on the set of Titanic?

While most movies are expected to give viewers a slice of drama, it may surprise people to know that a lot of theatrics may continue after the cameras stop rolling—and they might even be a little more toxic. From alleged sexual assaults to angry rants from lead actors, these movie sets were extremely uncomfortable to be on, to say the very least. Read on to see five famous movie sets that were ripe with off-screen drama and controversy.

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Terminator Salvation

Christian Bale in the Terminator
Warner Bros Pictures

Termination Salvation, the fourth installment of the Terminator franchise released in 2009, is a well-known science fiction film that stars Christian Bale as John Connor. While the film is chock full of action, it's the on-set drama that remains more talked to this day.

In February of 2009, a recording of Bale was released to the public—and it didn't depict him in the best light. You can hear Bale screaming at the film's cinematographer, Shane Hurlbut, as he walked on set to fix a light. Bale threatens to destroy the lighting equipment and to even leave the movie for good if Hurlbut ever disrupts the set again. We can appreciate a serious actor being in the zone but this is no way to treat a co-worker. The cast must have walked on eggshells after such a tantrum.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean scene of pirates cheering
Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures

Zoe Saldaña joined the original cast of Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003 as a young actress, but the experience ended up being quite tense.

"There were just so many actors and so many producers and so many crew members," she told Variety. "We were shooting in different locations, and the environments were not that agreeable, sometimes, to our shoot days. I was very young, and it was just a little too big for me, and the pace of it was a little too fast."

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Saldaña said those involved with the film were not the right people for her and she toyed with the idea of quitting acting entirely.

"I'm not talking about the cast. The cast was great," she said. "I'm talking about the political stuff that went on behind closed doors. It was a lot of above-the-line versus below-the-line, extras versus actors, producers versus PAs. It was very elitist. I almost quit the business. I was 23 years old, and I was like, 'F— this!' I am never putting myself in this situation again. People disrespecting me because they look at my number on a call sheet and they think I'm not important. F—k you."

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The Shining

a scene of a woman screaming in the shining.
Warner Bros

Everyone knows The Shining, the classic 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. It's a film full of chaos and bone-chilling moments, but people might not know that what happened on set was pretty scary in its own right.

Duvall, who played Wendy Torrance, was terribly overworked by the film's director, Stanley Kubrick. In an interview with Roger Ebert, when talking about her experience on set, she said "going through day after day of excruciating work. Almost unbearable."

According to, Kubrik commanded the film crew to not to show any sympathy for Duvall and asked them to ignore her completely. He also reportedly never complimented Duvall's scenes while constantly praising Nicholson.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Duvall spoke again about how awful the experience was for her. "To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled—I would just start crying. I'd be like, 'Oh no, I can't, I can't.' And yet I did it. I don't know how I did it. Jack said that to me, too. He said, 'I don't know how you do it.'"

The Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Scene when Dorothy falls asleep.

The Wizard of Oz is a delightful movie full of music and magic that make you want to head to Oz too. But the set was quite the opposite, with actors experiencing everything from accidental burns to alleged sexual assaults.

In his autobiography, Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland, Judy Garland's ex husband, Sid Luft, revealed that 17-year-old Garland was groped while on set by the actors who played the munchkins. "They would make Judy's life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress," he wrote. "The men were 40 or more years old."

Unfortunately, this was not the only incident on set. Margaret Hamilton, who famously played the Wicked Witch of the West, got third degree burns on her hands and face while filming a scene where she disappears in a cloud of smoke because she wasn't given enough time to exit the stage before the fire was lit.

Lastly, Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM studios at the time, told Garland she was too overweight to play Dorothy. He forced her on a strict diet of chicken soup, black coffee, cigarettes, and pills that would shrink her appetite. Garland also had to wear tape and a corset to flatten out any of her curves. By the time she was done filming, she was reportedly addicted to barbiturates and amphetamines.

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Filming a scene in the water in Titanic.
Paramount Pictures

Titanic, directed by James Cameron, was a box office hit, earning over 2.2 billion dollars. While the classic love story takes place on the sinking Titanic, the experience on set was also quite bumpy.

On August 9, 1996 while filming in Nova Scotia, the cast and crew were served clam chowder that had been spiked with P.C.P., getting a majority of people on set incredibly high (Kate and Leo were not there that day) .

Actor Bill Paxton recalled to Entertainment Weekly, "Some people were laughing, some people were crying, some people were throwing up. One minute I felt OK, the next minute I felt so goddamn anxious I wanted to breathe in a paper bag. Cameron was feeling the same way."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron said he had to step away from the set to vomit. The staff members who ate the soup were sent to the hospital and everyone made it through. And to this day, no one knows who was behind that toxic batch of chowder.

But the danger of filming this iconic movie didn't stop there. During the scene where the ship bows down to the ocean, many actors were injured, ranging from broken bones to ruptured organs. Perhaps ironically, Kate Winslet nearly drowned when her coat got caught on some iron bars and she was pulled under water.

According to reports, Winslet said, "I had to sort of shimmy out of the coat to get free. I had no breath left. I thought I'd burst. And Jim said, 'Ok, let's go again.' That was his attitude. I didn't want to be a wimp, so I didn't complain."

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Allure, HuffPost, and more. Read more
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