‘The Shining’: Why Shelley Duvall Seemed ‘Tortured’ While Making Stanley Kubrick’s Film

Shelley Duvall recently gave an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, recalling her experience in The Shining. And while she believes the horror movie turned out to be an extraordinary film, she admits how grueling and traumatic the process was.

Her mental health was put at risk during the making of Stanley Kubrick‘s film, and not enough people paid attention to her well-being. Even Jack Nicholson’s ex-girlfriend, Anjelica Huston, says that Duvall seemed “tortured” and “shook up” throughout the making of The Shining.

Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson
CIRCA 1980: Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson in New York City | Robin Platzer/Getty Images

Shelley Duvall and Stanley Kubrick had a troubled relationship

According to Duvall, there were times when she truly resented Kubrick. In the documentary titled The Making of The Shining, Duvall recalls how grueling his demands could be.

“I resented Stanley at times because he pushed me, and it hurt,” said the actor. “And I resented him for it. I thought, ‘How can you do this to me?’ You agonize over it. And it’s just a necessary turmoil to get what you want out of it… And I find I really respect him and like him both as a person and as a director. I’m amazed.”


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Yet despite all the suffering she endured at the hands of the perfectionist director, the Texas-native admits that Kubrick could be very kind as well.

When asked in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter if Kubrick was like Jack Torrance, Duvall said “No.”

“No, he was very warm and friendly to me,” she shockingly reveals.

“(Kubrick) 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.”

Shelley Duvall was ‘tortured’ while making ‘The Shining’, according to Anjelica Huston

Yet, according to Anjelica Huston (who was in an on-again-off-again relationship with Jack Nicholson for 17 years), there was nothing warm and fuzzy going on behind the scenes with Duvall and Kubrick. In Huston’s opinion, she thinks Duvall seemed tortured and shaken up during the making of the movie.

“I got the feeling, certainly through what Jack was saying at the time, that Shelley was having a hard time just dealing with the emotional content of the piece,” Huston shares. “And they didn’t seem to be all that sympathetic. It seemed to be a little bit like the boys were ganging up. That might have been completely my misread on the situation, but I just felt it. And when I saw her during those days, she generally seemed a bit tortured, shook up. I don’t think anyone was being particularly careful of her.”

Shelley Duvall couldn’t stand crying all the time while making Stanley Kubrick’s film

Duvall tells The Hollywood Reporter how emotionally taxing it was to play a character who sobs in nearly every single scene. According to the actor, she would put on her walkman and listen to sad songs before a tear-jerking take. Other times, she’d think unhappy thoughts to get her into that grieving headspace. Yet eventually, all that crying became detrimental to her well-being.

“But after a while, your body rebels,” she admits. “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. 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.’ “