Skip to main content

While Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson were able to get along during the making of Stephen King‘s The Shining, Duvall admits she’d often get jealous of her co-star. During the filming process, she felt isolated, and director Stanley Kubrick barely gave her any praise for her acting.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Kubrick would always pat Nicholson on the back for his good work. This sort of behavior caused Duvall to feel a sense of jealousy, and she claims in an interview that she wishes she could’ve gotten some of the attention too. 

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, poses backstage at the 1979 Academy Awards | George Rose/Getty Images

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

Jack and Wendy Torrance are mortal enemies in The Shining. But in real life, Duvall claims that Nicholson was her “rock” throughout the making of the movie. They’d get together at the end of a 16-hour shoot and have a drink. While sipping scotch, they’d exchange acting techniques and their artistic visions when it came to the film.

And although they sometimes had opposing views on how they should portray their characters, they respected each other’s opinions. They even got a case of the giggles several times while shooting some of the harrowing scenes.

“Jack was my rock on set,” Duvall tells “We became really good friends.” 

Shelley Duvall became jealous of the fact that Jack Nicholson was getting all the praise

Duvall is exceptionally open about her experience in The Shining. She is never afraid to admit how much of a challenge the filming process could be. In Vivian Kubrick’s documentary, The Making of The Shining, Duvall admits how jealous she could get of Nicholson. In between takes, fans would sometimes show up to ask for Nicholson’s autograph. Meanwhile, Duvall didn’t receive the same amount of attention because she wasn’t as famous yet. 

“Jack’s such a big star, such a famous personality,” says Duvall, “that people do tend to be a bit sycophantic with him. It wasn’t entirely ineffectual. I mean, I did get jealous sometimes, I must admit. “It was mostly between takes, not during work. But on occasions when we were just sitting around or about to come to work or standing by in our rooms, there were times when I felt a bit jealous because he got very much attention. And I suppose I like attention, too.”  

Shelley Duvall wanted Stanley Kubrick’s approval

As told by Esquire in an interview with Kubrick’s assistant, he reveals how tough it was for Duvall to work with the director. According to the assistant, Duvall became insecure because Nicholson seemed to receive all the praise. Esquire reveals,

“In the days that followed, Stanley started to shoot the scenes with the two actors. It became immediately apparent that there were problems. As usual, Jack took up his position in front of the camera and delivered his lines with the determination of a charging bull. Shelley, on the other hand, was hesitant.”


‘The Shining’: Stanley Kubrick Said Shelley Duvall Was ‘Wasting Everyone’s Time’ While Shooting

The article goes on, revealing how nervous Duvall was that she kept messing up her takes. While Nicholson would just continue to act in character even after messing up, Duvall would break character and become extremely insecure.

“‘Shelley, do the scene just as I told you, and then after we’ll see if it’s OK,’ Stanley insisted.

‘You always say OK to Jack. Why don’t you ever say that to me? Is there something wrong?’ she asked, bewildered.

‘Shelley, just do the scene.'”