‘The Shining’: Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall Cracked up Laughing During This Horrifying Scene

Some of the behind the scenes details about The Shining are arguably more horrifying than the film itself. From what Shelley Duvall and the rest of the castmates have told us, working on the horror movie was both “excruciating” and “grueling.” Duvall even claims that playing Wendy Torrance was the most challenging movie role she’s ever portrayed in her life.

Despite all of the horror that went on behind the scenes, the cast and crew shared some excellent moments. As for Duvall and Jack Nicholson, they became good friends while filming. And during one particularly horrifying scene, the stars of the film couldn’t stop cracking up. Needless to say, Stanley Kubrick was NOT laughing.

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson | Arthur Schatz/Getty Images

Stanley Kubrick created a scary environment behind the scenes

Stanley Kubrick was keen on creating an uncomfortable environment while shooting, to perfect the mood he was aiming for in the film. He famously isolated Duvall during a time when she was in distress, telling the rest of the cast and crew not to “sympathize with Shelley.” This can be seen in Vivian Kubrick’s documentary, The Making of The Shining.

Kubrick would try to create the right horrifying mood on set by making the cast watch David Lynch’s Eraserhead multiple times. According to The Guardian, it was one of Kubrick’s favorite movies.

The stars of ‘The Shining’ couldn’t stop laughing during this essential scene

Fans of The Shining know that Jack Torrance slowly unravels into a state of utter insanity. And in one pivotal scene from the film, we are genuinely able to see his downfall. This is the scene when Wendy politely walks in to greet him while he’s in the middle of a writing session. (Not sure if typing “All work and no play” repeatedly counts as a writing session, but to each their own.)

Shelley Duvall in Vogue 1971
Shelley Duvall in Vogue 1971 |  Bert Stern/Condé Nast via Getty Images

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And when Wendy sweetly offers to make him food, he blows up on her for distracting him. At this moment, we truly see how much the Overlook Hotel is destroying Jack’s mind. 

Despite the unsettling nature of the scene, Nicholson and Duvall kept cracking up laughing while trying to get the take. Suffice it to say, Kubrick was not in on the joke. Duvall tells comingsoon.net that this also happened to be her favorite scene in the movie. She reveals,

“My favorite would have to be the scene with Jack typing away at his typewriter, and I come in and ‘distract’ him! Such a well-done shot. I love how there’s no music and how Wendy (and the viewers) have no idea what Jack is typing. So tense. The first time Jack told me to ‘Get the f**k out of here,’ we both cracked up laughing!!! We thought it was funny, Mr.Kubrick did NOT!”

Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall became good friends while making ‘The Shining’

Stanley Kubrick Exhibition At TIFF Bell Lightbox
‘The Shining’ exhibit | Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Despite all the gruesome details on set, there were a few moments of grace scattered throughout the filming process. This was especially true at the end of a long workday, where Nicholson and Duvall could be found hanging out while kicking their feet up. Duvall reveals in her interview with comingsoon.net that Nicholson became her “rock” while shooting. The two would share a scotch after working 15-16 hour long days and discuss various acting techniques with one another.

“Jack was my rock on set,” she says. “We became really good friends.”