Shelley Duvall Resurfaces for First Time in Years to Discuss Trauma of Making 'The Shining'

Actress Shelley Duvall recently resurfaced for the first time in many years to discuss the trauma she suffered during the making of The Shining. The reclusive and very private former star sat down with THR to speak about her career, and the conversation quickly leaned toward the filming of the classic Stanley Kubrick horror movie that Duvall starred in with Jack Nicholson. Duvall said the shoot was, among many other things, extremely "difficult."

"[Kubrick] doesn't print anything until at least the 35th take. Thirty-five takes, running and crying and carrying a little boy, it gets hard," she shared. "And full performance from the first rehearsal. That's difficult." Duvall recalled that she would "listen to sad songs" on her Walkman, or think about missing her family, in order to help her get in the headspace necessary to perform. "But after a while, your body rebels. It says: 'Stop doing this to me. I don't want to cry every day.' And sometimes just that thought alone would make me cry."

Duvall continued, "To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled — I would just start crying. I'd be like, 'Oh no, I can't, I can't.' And yet I did it. I don't know how I did it. Jack said that to me, too. He said, 'I don't know how you do it.'" In 2016, Duvall appeared on Dr. Phil McGraw's show to discuss mental health and her trauma, but she has since regretted the decision to appear, saying, "I found out the kind of person he is the hard way."

Kubrick, who died in 1999, has long been criticized for his treatment of Duvall on the set of The Shining, with many citing his demanding expectations as taking a detrimental toll on her emotional and mental health. Duvall, however, seemed to downplay the harshness of Kubrick's directorial approach during the THR interview. "He's got that streak in him. He definitely has that. But I think mostly because people have been that way to him at some time in the past," she said.

Duvall went on to say, "He was very warm and friendly to me. He spent a lot of time with Jack and me. He just wanted to sit down and talk for hours while the crew waited. And the crew would say, 'Stanley, we have about 60 people waiting.' But it was very important work."


Finally, Duvall opened up about one of the most difficult scenes to film, the fight between Duvall and Nicholson's characters on the Overlook Hotel stairs. While watching a clip of the scene, Duvall grew emotional. When asked why, she explained, "Because we filmed that for about three weeks. Every day. It was very hard. Jack was so good — so damn scary. I can only imagine how many women go through this kind of thing."