Drug use was so widespread on the set of ‘The Blues Brothers’ that the film had its own budget for cocaine, according to Dan Aykroyd.
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In a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 1980 comedy in Vanity Fair, the ‘Saturday Night Live’ star said: “We had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots. Everyone did it, including me. Never to excess, and not ever to where I wanted to buy it or have it. But John [Belushi, his co-star], he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night - that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.”
‘The Blues Brothers’ is a cult classic today, but was a troubled production that went way over budget, partly because of Belushi’s drug problems.
Director John Landis told Vanity Fair: “[Belushi] was f**ked up. It became a battle to keep him alive and to keep him working on the movie.”
Landis would tell new additions to the cast: “if you see John doing drugs, stop him” and describes finding a ‘Scarface’-sized quantity of cocaine in Belushi’s trailer.
Even after finally finishing the film, Landis said many cinema chains initially refused to show it. They told him: “’This is a black movie and white people won’t see it.’ Most of the prime houses wouldn’t book it.”
The film ended up making more than £70 million (from a budget of £18 million), but there would be no happy ending for Belushi, who died in 1982 after taking a speedball (cocaine and heroin injected at the same time).