The Shining actress Shelley Duvall, who battles anxiety, said that her mental health has deteriorated following a highly taxing role in the late Stanley Kubrick’s movie.

In a 2016 appearance on Dr. Phil, Duvall displayed her unbalanced mental state by claiming 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 notions in Jack Nicholson’s psychological thriller The Shining, in which Robert Duvall featured as Wendy, the predatory Jack Torrance, were so horrifying that they affected Duvall.

With her wide brown eyes and tiny frame, Duvall was distinctive, eccentric, and almost elflike in the 1980s. Today, the 73-year-old is barely recognizable following a vacation from Hollywood.

Duvall’s acting career began by coincidence at a party she threw with her then-boyfriend in junior college.

Three individuals who were close friends with M*A*S*H director Robert Altman encouraged her to try out for Brewster McCloud. She accepted the bait despite not being an actor, and soon after, she won a prize for her subsequent performance in Altman’s 3 Women (1977).

The newcomer caught the attention of Hollywood and went on to appear in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Time Bandits (1981), and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). She is also the creator and host of the fantasy programs Tall Tales and Legends, for which she was nominated for an Emmy and The Faerie Tale Theater.

The Torrance couple and their young son Danny are the main characters in The Shining, a movie based on Stephen King’s book. They spend the winter maintaining a stately, remote hotel in the Rocky Mountains that is, for the time being, closed to visitors but inhabited by the ghosts of victims the previous caretaker killed.

After visions of the horrifying creatures that stalk the hotel, Jack’s mental stability deteriorates, putting Wendy and their little kid in peril as he descends into madness.

Duvall’s mental well-being was deteriorating even when the cameras weren’t rolling. Her hardships heightened her transformation into the tortured Wendy in The Shining.

In 1974, Duvall’s first marriage ended. She split up with singer-songwriter Paul Simon after introducing her to Carrie Fisher, a friend about to become highly well-known for playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars film.

Duvall and Simon split up at the airport shortly before she boarded a plane to begin filming The Shining after two years of cohabitation. The late Fisher and Simon then began dating; they later got married.

After her separation, Duvall was emotionally devastated and was forced to fulfill the legendary Kubrick’s extremely high standards. Kubrick is renowned for being a perfectionist.

A sequence starring a young Danny Lloyd required 148 takes, earning Kubrick the record for the most takes in a single scene in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Completing the famous stairwell scene took 127 takes to match Kubrick’s standards, where Duvall’s character is swinging a bat at Nicholson.

It took three weeks to film that sequence, according to Duvall, who noted, “It was tough.”

According to Duvall, “Jack was so good-so damn scary,” and “It was a difficult scene, but it turned out to be one of the best in the film.”

Jack Nicholson said Kubrick was a “different director” when working with Duvall in the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. Nicholson, according to People, asserts that Kubrick constantly retaliated against Duvall, displaying to him hair clumps that were falling out due to the strain of filming that particular scene.

In a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Duvall—who has already lost the endearing elfin glint—discussed the physical and emotional stress of playing Wendy.

She added that Kubrick didn’t print anything until at least the 35th take. Your body eventually protests. “Stop doing this to me,” it commands. I don’t want to cry all the time. And occasionally, I would start crying at the mere notion of it.”

“I would immediately start crying if I realized I had to cry all day on a Monday because it was planned when I woke up that early. ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t,’ I’d say. But I still did it. I have no idea how I managed it. Jack also stated something to me. ‘I don’t know how you do it.’”

Award-winning actress and director Anjelica Huston was dating and living with Jack Nicholson at the time of the production. She explained that Shelley struggled to deal with the piece’s emotional tone and that the audience members weren’t sympathetic. She embraced it. She was, in my opinion, really courageous.

Duvall, however, is all gushing about the legendary director. She remarked, “He was pretty welcoming and friendly to me.”

She gained fame despite being a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress nominee.

In 1981, she told People, “When somebody recognizes you at a Dairy Queen in Texas, you’re a star.”

Alongside the late Robin Williams, Duvall portrayed Olive Oyl in Popeye. She also briefly participated in Roxanne (1987), which starred Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, and another small role in Manna from Heaven (2002).

When she appeared on Dr. Phil McGraw, who used her interview as a case study, she retreated and returned to living quietly in her small Texas town.

Duvall spoke of recent troubles and expressed paranoid delusions of being harmed, flitting between fact and fantasy and making it evident that her mental health was out of whack.

Then, after remembering how stunning she once was, she referred to herself as “grotesque.”

She was transported to California for treatment on the advice of McGraw, which led to a small police encounter that detractors claim ought to have taken place closer to her house.

Vivian Kubrick, the late Kubrick’s daughter, criticized Dr. Phil on Twitter, calling it “exploitative” and a “form of lurid entertainment.” I cringe in utter loathing, she wrote. I’m hoping others would join me in denouncing your callous entertainment.

Duvall has returned to the big screen with a part in The Forest Hills, a 2023 horror movie.

Without Nicholson and Duvall, The Shining wouldn’t be the same. We greatly admire actors’ fortitude since their love of acting allows them to inhabit a character fully.

Duvall’s mental health should get better, and we wish her well.

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