Shelley Duvall Recalls ‘Difficult’ Experience Filming ‘The Shining’ : ‘I Don’t Know How I Did It’

“Waking up on a Monday morning, so early, and realizing you had to cry all day because it was planned, I would just start crying,” the actress, now 71, recalls. .

Shelley Duvall put on a performance for the ages in The Shining – but the filming process was far from easy.

In a broad profile with The Hollywood Reporter published on Thursday, the 71-year-old actress reflected on the making of the 1980 horror classic, which took 56 weeks to film – and holds a Guinness World Record for “most retakes of a scene with dialogue.”

Duvall, who has lived outside the spotlight for nearly three decades, shared that director Stanley Kubrick offered her the role before he met her — or even had a script. “He said I was good at crying,” she recalled.

Although she remembers having a “nice dinner” with Kubrick and her daughter before production began, once the cameras started rolling it was strictly business.

“[Kubrick] doesn’t print anything until at least the 35th take. Thirty-five takes, running and crying and carrying a little boy, it gets tough,” the actress said. “And a full performance from the first rehearsal. It’s difficult.”

In order to get herself in the right frame of mind, Duvall said she would “listen to sad songs” before each scene or “just think about something very sad in your life or how much your family and friends missing”.

“But after a while, your body rebels. It says, ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes that thought alone made me cry,” she added. “Waking up on a Monday morning, so early, and realizing that you had to cry all day because it was planned – I would just start crying. I would be like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t .’ And yet I did it, I don’t know how I did it. [Nicholson] told me that too. He said, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ ”

In response to questions about whether the director had been cruel or abusive towards her during filming, Duvall said that while Kubrick had “that side to him”, he was “very warm and friendly” with her.

“He spent a lot of time with Jack and me. He just wanted to sit and talk for hours while the crew waited. And the crew was like, ‘Stanley, we have about 60 people waiting.’ But it was very important work,” she recalls.

However, Anjelica Huston, who was dating Nicholson at the time, had a different impression.

“I got the impression, certainly through what Jack was saying at the time, that Shelley was struggling to deal with the emotional content of the play. And they didn’t seem very sympathetic. It seemed to be a bit like if the boys gang up,” she told THR. “That may have been completely my misreading of the situation, but I just felt it. And when I saw her during those days, she generally seemed a bit tortured, shaken. I don’t think anyone was doing Pay special attention to her.”

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After remarking during her interview with THR that she hadn’t seen the film “in a long time”, Duvall sat down to watch the movie’s memorable baseball batting scene – in which the actress’ character recoils in horror from her predatory husband.

When asked why her character was crying in the scene, Duvall recalled that the filming process was particularly intense.

“We filmed this for about three weeks,” she said. “Every day. It was very hard. Jack was so good, so scary. I can only imagine how many women go through this stuff.”

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