Shelley “Shining” Duvall on Dr. Phil: Were Kubrick’s Directorial Methods too much?

The year of 1980, was a great year, it saw the Rubix cube unleashed on the world, so people have been brain straining to match up all those colorful squares up ever since, plus, it also saw the release of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ (buy here). An undoubted thriller/horror classic of cult-tastic proportions which still catches traction on any day of the week. It’s possibly one of the most hauntingly great films’ ever made and it’s not surprising to attach all that brilliance to one man, yes, the dictator of the whole production, the one and only, Stanley Kubrick.

Apart from the other amazing performances from Jack Nicholson (buy here), Danny Lloyd & Scatman Crothers, it was Shelley Duvall who almost impressed the most, playing ‘Wendy Torrance’, the wife of novelist ‘Jack Torrance’, played by Jack Nicholson. She really did lose her mind in the performance or didn’t she? She expertly shows the signs of someone bereft of any sanity in this epic film, no wonder after having to put up with a psychotic writer of husband and father, in the ilk of ‘Mr. Jack Torrance’. Movie magic! In that same year, she starred alongside Robin Williams in ‘Popeye’ (buy here), playing Olive Oyl and we think that, that casing director should’ve received an Oscar on picking her for her looks alone.


Steady on, Shelley, steady on.


So, fast forward thirty-six years, now in 2016, Shelley Duvall is on Dr. Phil, where he will finally get her the right help, as she seemingly struggles with a mental illness. After making statements like these, you might have to agree with Dr. Phil on this one, or is she simply “Shining” now? As follows:

‘What do you think happened?’ asks Dr. Phil on Robin Williams’ death. ‘Well, beetles escapes, I don’t know, stones escapes.’ ‘Where do you think he is?’ the doctor asks. ‘Shapeshifting,’ she replies, with a smile. ‘He looks real good in some forms and in other forms he doesn’t.’  ‘Do you see him?’ Dr. Phil asks, ‘Half, yes,’ Duvall replies.

Rewind, thirty-six years to the production of ‘The Shining’, where Stanley Kubrick was rumored to have ostracized and terrorized Shelley Duvall so much during the making of the film, in order to get the right performance from her, that some people started to wonder if this method bordered on director/actor abuse. I suppose, you’ll only have to re-watch ‘The Shining’ just to see how far Stanley Kubrick pushed Shelley Duvall in her performance of ‘Wendy Torrance’. And, then we think you will agree that Kubrick had Duvall’s character directions down to a really tough method, in getting her frightened performance just perfect for this amazing film. Watch here (do it!).

Torrance on the Typewriter, "REDRUM".

Jack Torrance on the Typewriter, “REDRUM”. It was only a matter of time, damn writer’s block!

Yes, the Stephen King novel (buy here), ‘The Shining’ with Kubrick at the wheel, you’re unlikely to ever see a more tense ridden film. With Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, like this, we want to watch it again this weekend. Watch the trailer here. Yes, the story of the novelist ‘Jack Torrance’ who brings his family to housesit in a massive Colorado Hotel up in the mountains, as caretaker for the winter season, with his family along for the ride, so that he can have all that space to finish his book in peace and quiet, really is the stuff of cinematic history.

Stanley Kubrick (buy here) reportedly made Shelley Duvall perform 127 takes of the infamous baseball bat scene, which reportedly holds the record for most takes in movie history. Could this have been the spark of the future mental illness or is ‘The Shining’ just a brilliant bloody good film? You decide! Have a look at the famous, “Here’s Johnny” scene, here.

The scene count entered The Guinness Book Of Records as the most takes ever taken for any scene with dialogue and apparently Shelley Duvall isn’t even really acting here, Kubrick made her cry all by method in achieving her optimum performance. Amazing directing to an actress or is this taking it too far? The jury’s still out on this one, what do you think? Read more on ‘The Shining’ here.


When you bother a novelist. Watch out! Best to stay away, you see.


But additionally, throughout the principles of photography, Kubrick had instructed all people on the film, from your Key Grip to the Cast, that nobody should be nice to her and or sympathize with her, basically, just make her feel terrible and isolated throughout the whole process was the ultimate mission. And boy, did it work!  He knew it would amplify her emotions of helplessness and capture how distraught her character should really be, during the making of this wonderful film, playing  a wife driven mad by her scary husband.

So, are we surprised to see that Shelley Duval is now on Dr. Phil (buy here), saying that she sees Robin Williams as a shapeshifting spirit? No, we are not surprised in the least, but we wished to bring it back to the on set film history of what went on, during the filming of ‘The Shining’, in order to create such a cinematic masterpiece.  Does it bare any relation to Duvall’s current mental health? Probably not, but it could have been a traumatic trigger for anyone because Shelley Duvall’s performance in the film is nothing less than haunting. We are currently thinking about re-watching the film again this weekend, that’s the true extent of brilliance in this film. If it’s ever shown on TV, it’s sacrilegious to change the channel, just so you know.

Catch Shelley Duvall on Friday, November 18th on Dr. Phil. This should be interesting to see, preview it here. Hopefully, he can help her out. A wonderfully rare actress in cinematic history.

If you like Brainstain, we invite you to come back on the daily and watch this here and so you don’t forget to “come and play with us”, “forever and ever and ever”.


<Story by The Narrator>

Featured Video Image Courtesy of Youtube, ‘The Shining’. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.