Hopes & Fears has published an interview with Kevin Finn and Natalie Kearns about all of the work that goes into making fake cocaine look real. Finn and Hearns aren’t shady drug dealers looking to cut their coke and up their profits, but Hollywood prop masters. Their entire job is based around making things that are fake look not-fake when on screen, even in brutal HD.
So while they don’t cut real cocaine for a living, they do use a similar substance to make the fake white stuff: inositol, a B-vitamin compound. Inositol is what professional scumbags use when cutting down cocaine’s purity, along with “lactose powder, baby powder, crushed baby laxatives, all kinds of nasty shit.”
They also describe the amount of prosthetics that go into helping folks blow their blow, rather than snorting it. To avoid having to inhale any powdery substances, some actors use a tube that travels up the sleeve, and blows out through the prop hundred dollar bill. But these prop masters give all of the credit to the actors, who have to sell an act that is usually made even more complicated by the fact that it is fractured into several different cuts, filmed separately.
There’s some great reading in here, but the most interesting tidbit is the concept of “going hot.” This is when an actor will request to have the fauxcaine replaced with actual cocaine. They wouldn’t name any names, or even cough them into their fists, but rest assured, at least a handful of on-screen coke scenes feature actors actually doing coke. It’s just one of the many sacrifices that screen thespians are willing to make for their art, take after take.