What are they smoking?! When scenes call for pot or cocaine, Hollywood turns to stash of faux drugs

cigarettes

Ever wonder what movie actors are really smoking and snorting when they do a line of coke or lift a joint to their lips?

Turns out that many cocaine look-alikes are ingredients you might use in a cake, like powdered sugar, powdered milk and baking soda, while herbal tobacco fills in for genuine cannabis.

Though the fakes are legal and don’t provide a high, sometimes they can make the actors feel a little buzzed. On Showtime’s “Weeds,” for instance, where potheads Doug and Andy are often lighting up, the herbal tobacco makes them feel a little lightheaded, says “Weeds” executive producer Roberto Benabib.

“According to them, it gets them higher than regular marijuana,” he says. “They end up smoking so much of it they get very lightheaded, and they don’t like it. Sometimes they do take after take, and you will see them getting woozy because it has a strange effect on them. But it’s totally legal, and it is what we are supposed to use.”

Herbal tobacco is also the preferred “pot” for cinematographer and prop master Jeff Butcher, who’s now working on a movie with “Pineapple Express” star James Franco, and who also worked with Mickey Rourke on “The Wrestler.”

“You can get herbal cigarettes made out of marshmallows and a bunch of different herbs,” Butcher says. “But they don’t have any nicotine.”

So-called stoner magazines advertise products like Herbal Ecstasy, he notes, which is an herb-based product that can be smoked or snorted. Wizard Weed is another product that can be used in place of marijuana, he says.

“You can roll it into joints and put it into bags,” Butcher says. “And it definitely doesn’t get you high.”

Some prop masters order buds and joints from International Oddities, which sells a variety of fake marijuana products, says Thomas Leupp, editor at Hollywood.com.

“They provide this fake bud, and actually they have dozens of different kinds” Leung says. “Generally, a director has a favorite prop master they use, or the studio will provide a prop master.”

For cocaine, Leupp says, some actors actually snort powdered sugar or baking soda.

“I’ve heard that they also have used Ovaltine, but I’m not so sure about that,” he says. “These are things that can be irritating to the nose, but I’ve heard that real coke is irritating, too.”

Cocaine shows up on an episode of the fourth season of “Weeds,” when Celia uses it, and baby laxatives fit the bill nicely, says Benabib.

“These are very weak and very mild,” he says. “And they’re already in powdered form.”

Butcher says that when a scene calls for cocaine, he used a vitamin called inositol.

“It is a B-vitamin of some kind, and I believe that it is the most common cocaine cut [used on film],” he says. “With inositol, you get a little bit of energy lift, but it is very mild. I don’t know about ingesting baking soda, though.”

Products like baking soda and confectioners’ sugar may work better when the “cocaine” needs to be seen on screen in bulk, Butcher adds.

When faux pot plants are needed, as they were in “Weeds,” things got costly.

“In seasons two and three, we were growing hydroponically indoors,” Benabib says. “We needed literally hundreds of the plants, and they are very expensive. They cost an arm and a leg.”

So, do any actors ever want to use the real thing?

“There is an urban legend that [Al] Pacino used real cocaine during ‘Scarface,’ ” says Leupp. “But that has never been confirmed.”

source: http://www.nydailynews.com

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