What’s Really Going Up Actors’ Noses? 6 Drugs and How They’re Faked in the Movies


Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jonah Hill, who plays an arms dealer in Afghanistan in the new film War Dogs, recently revealed that the most dangerous role (in terms of his health) that he’s played was the corrupt, coke-snorting financial crook Donnie Azoff in Wolf of Wall Street.

“I snorted so much of that stuff that I got, like, bronchitis! My lungs were filled with [vitamin D] powder, and I got really sick for a month and a half,” Hill told The Guardian.

Considering the proliferation of drug-themed movies and TV shows, fake drugs are on the rise. Apart from vitamin D powder for cocaine, what is the entertainment industry putting up the noses and into the lungs of our favorite actors?

For some of the most common, the New York Post gives us some inside info.

Gillian Albinski, prop master on “Homeland,” told the Post that when Brody (Damian Lewis) got hooked on heroin, he was snorting a combination of powders, including a blend of milk powder. For the lactose intolerant, they use Inositol powder, a vitamin B derivative often used to cut cocaine—real cocaine.

When heroin needs to be “cooked” for injection, prop masters substitute sugar and baking soda, which thickens like the real thing. Another solution is to use gelatin or even bouillon.

Then the fake heroin has to go into a fake needle to look like it’s going into a real arm. A “needle” with a retractable blunt end is used here.

In the case of cocaine, if it’s just for display or being cut into lines, a combination of powders will do. But if it’s going up someone’s nose, more caution is taken.

“I always use powdered lactose,” said Mychael Bates, who worked on Horrible Bosses. “You can snort it for real, and it doesn’t affect you.”

But for actors like Johah Hill, the prop masters came up with a great idea—coating the inside of the coke straw (or one-hundred dollar bill) with Vaseline, so most of the powder sticks to it when snorted.

How about our favorite? Weed.

Alternet aptly pointed out that the issue here is “not so much coming up with suitable fakes, but persuading the actors not to use their own stashes.”

“I’ve worked on shows where actors have wanted to smoke the real thing, and I was constantly fighting to take away their real bags,” Albinski told the Post. “Oregano smells so much like the real thing, you have to check carefully to make sure they haven’t switched it out.”

Prop masters also go to sites like legalbuds.com to buy herbs that look and burn like pot, but don’t get anyone high. You can’t use regular tobacco, because the smoke is less dense.

Then there’s the paraphernalia. The bong water, for example, can be darkened with Coca-Cola and bits of crushed cigarettes.

You have to make it believable,” Albinski said.

Then there’s ecstasy, for which powders can be used unless they are pills. Food coloring can easily make the logo.

Fake crack is made from dropping globs of Krazy Glue into a pile of baking soda.

And finally, magic mushrooms. That’s the easiest: freeze-dried fungus, available almost anywhere in Chinatown.

For all of HIGH TIMES’ culture coverage, click here

2 Comments Hide Comments
  • Willie Rainey

    So what did Tony Montana use

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