How fake drugs are made for movies

Not only do fake drugs in movies have to look accurate and be safe to ingest, they also need to act like the drugs. For example, tobacco can’t be substituted for cannabis because tobacco smoke isn’t as heavy as cannabis smoke and the difference is noticeable on camera. The fake meth from “Breaking Bad” was made from rock candy. Additionally, different states of the drugs require different prop drugs. Fake powdered heroin can be created by combining pancake mix and cocoa powder, but melted heroin is made with brown sugar and water. To inject this fake heroin on camera, a special retractable needle is used that pushes the fake drugs into a hidden chamber in the syringe. Most fake drugs are created from food or vitamins so that actors can safely ingest them. However, even with precautions in place, prop drugs can still be dangerous. Al Pacino suffered minor but permanent damage to his nasal passage after snorting a lot of cocaine on the set of “Scarface,” and Jonah Hill had to be hospitalized after he got bronchitis from snorting too much Vitamin D powder on the set of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” If actors want to avoid ingesting drugs altogether, a suction rig can be constructed that sucks up fake powdered drugs through a concealed tube like they did in “Sorry to Bother You.” We talked to the owner of Barkode Props, prop master Joel Barkow, who showed us the tricks of the trade.

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