Actress Shelley Duvall, who struggles with anxiety, claimed that after taking on a demanding role in the late Stanley Kubrick’s film, her mental health had gotten worse.
In a 2016 appearance on Dr. Phil, Duvall demonstrated her unstable mental state by asserting that her Popeye co-star Robin Williams is not dead but rather “shape-shifting,” that she is being threatened by “the sheriff of Nottingham,” among other ramblings that included a cry for help.
The ideas in Jack Nicholson’s psychological suspense film The Shining—in which Robert Duvall played Wendy, the rapacious Jack Torrance—were so horrifying that they had an impact on Duvall.
In the 1980s, Duvall stood out, was eccentric, and appeared almost elflike with her large brown eyes and petite frame. Following a break from Hollywood, the 73-year-old is now hardly recognisable.
Inadvertently, Duvall’s acting career started at a party she threw with her then-boyfriend in junior college.
Robert Altman, the director of M*A*S*H, and three of his close friends urged her to audition for Brewster McCloud. Despite the fact that she had no acting experience, she fell for the bait, and soon after, she was recognized for her subsequent performance in Altman’s 3 Women (1977).
The newcomer caught the eye of Hollywood and went on to make appearances in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Time Bandits (1981), and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). Additionally, she is the creator and host of the fantastical shows Tall Tales and Legends, for which she received an Emmy nomination, and The Faerie Tale Theater.
The Shining, a film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, centers on a married couple named the Torrances and their young son Danny. In the Rocky Mountains, they spend the winter tending to a grand, isolated hotel that is currently closed to guests but is inhabited by the ghosts of those the previous caretaker murdered.
Jack’s mental stability deteriorates after having visions of the terrifying creatures that stalk the hotel, putting Wendy and their young child in danger as he slips into madness.
Even when no one was watching, Duvall’s mental health was declining. Her struggles aided in her transformation into the tortured Wendy in The Shining.
The first marriage of Duvall ended in 1974. She ended her relationship with musician Paul Simon after introducing him to Carrie Fisher, a friend who would soon become well-known for portraying Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie.
After two years of living together, Duvall and Simon broke up at the airport just before she boarded a plane to start filming The Shining. After that, Simon and the late Fisher started dating; they later got hitched.
Duvall was left emotionally devastated by her breakup and was pressured to live up to the legendary Kubrick’s extremely high standards. As a perfectionist, Kubrick is well known.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists Kubrick as having used 148 takes for a scene starring a young Danny Lloyd, setting a record for the most takes in a single scene.
To meet Kubrick’s standards, it took 127 takes to finish the well-known stairwell scene in which Duvall’s character swings a bat at Nicholson.
According to Duvall, who added, “It was tough, it took three weeks to film that scene. ”.
Jack was “so good-so damn scary,” and although it was a challenging scene, it ended up being one of the best in the movie, according to Duvall. ”.
While collaborating with Duvall on the film Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Jack Nicholson claimed that Kubrick was a “different director.”. According to Nicholson, Kubrick repeatedly retaliated against Duvall by showing him hair clumps that were falling out as a result of the stress of filming that particular scene, People reports.
Duvall talked about the mental and physical strain of playing Wendy in a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He has since lost the endearing elfin glint.
Kubrick, she continued, didn’t print anything until at least the 35th take. In the end, your body will rebel. It screams, “Stop torturing me like this.”. I don’t want to cry nonstop. I would occasionally start crying just thinking about it. ”.
“If I found out I had to cry all day on a Monday because it was planned when I woke up that early, I would start crying right away. I used to say, “Oh no, I can’t, I can’t.”. I nevertheless carried it out. I have no idea how I did it. Jack also told me something. I have no idea how you manage it. ’”.
Anjelica Huston, an accomplished actress and director, was dating and living with Jack Nicholson at the time the film was being made. She elaborated on how Shelley found it difficult to handle the piece’s emotional undertone and how the spectators lacked empathy. She accepted it. She was really brave, in my opinion.
However, Duvall is all praise for the illustrious director. He was quite hospitable and friendly to me, she observed. ”.
Despite being a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, she became famous.
When someone recognizes you at a Dairy Queen in Texas, you’re a star, she said to People in 1981. ”.
Duvall starred in Popeye as Olive Oyl alongside the late Robin Williams. Additionally, she played a small role in Manna from Heaven (2002) and appeared briefly in Roxanne (1987), both of which starred Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah.
She withdrew and went back to living quietly in her small Texas town after appearing on Dr. Phil McGraw, who used her interview as a case study.
Duvall spoke of recent difficulties and expressed paranoid delusions of being harmed, flitting between reality and fantasy and making it clear that her mental health was out of whack.
She then described herself as “grotesque,” remembering how beautiful she once was. ”.
On the advice of McGraw, she was flown to California for medical care, which resulted in a brief police encounter that critics contend ought to have occurred closer to her home.
Dr. Phil was criticized by Vivian Kubrick, the late Kubrick’s daughter, on Twitter. She called it “exploitative” and a “form of lurid entertainment.”. She wrote, “I cringe in complete disgust. I hope others will join me in condemning your obscene amusement.
The Forest Hills, a 2023 horror film, features Duvall in his comeback to the big screen.
The Shining would be very different without Nicholson and Duvall. Since their passion for acting enables them to fully inhabit a character, we are in awe of actors’ tenacity.
We hope Duvall’s mental health improves; we wish her well.
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