Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic The Shining continues to be one of the most respected scary movies of all time. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall delivered outstanding performances that remain legendary to this day, but the movie would eventually become Duvall’s career peak.

Shelley Duvall faded into obscurity for many years

Texas-born actor Shelley Duvall continued to act for years after The Shining. She starred in Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre in the mid-1980s as well as a sister show Tall Tales & Legends. She appeared in movies such as Roxanne, The Portrait of a Lady, and Tale of the Mummy.

However, by the mid-2000s, Shelley Duvall had become a forgotten name in American culture. She stopped acting completely and retreated to a private life in her native Texas.

Duvall spent the next decade-plus enjoying her privacy when she was approached for a big interview opportunity.

Dr. Phil interviewed Shelley Duvall in 2016

In 2016, Dr. Phil McGraw wanted to sit down with Duvall to catch up on how her life has been since she faded into anonymity and what she wanted her legacy to be. The interview was done at her home to ensure Duvall was as comfortable as possible.

It became clear, however, that the interview was a bad idea for everyone involved. Duvall suffered from mental illness that might have stemmed from her traumatic work on The Shining. Among other things, she stated she believed that her Popeye co-star Robin Williams was still alive and roaming the earth as a shapeshifter.

Shelley Duvall’s bad experience with Dr. Phil

The interview was immediately criticized for its use of a mentally unstable person for entertainment, as it was apparent to viewers that Dr. Phil wasn’t there to actually help her but to make a spectacle out of her.

Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Vivian was one of the most outspoken critics of Dr. Phil after the interview. She delivered her honest opinion in an open letter to McGraw posted on Twitter. 

“Unquestionably, this is purely a form of lurid and exploitative entertainment,” Kubrick said of the episode. “It’s appallingly cruel.”

“I recoil in complete disgust,” she continued, lambasting McGraw for taking advantage of her fragile state and denying her basic dignity. “I hope others will join me in boycotting your utterly heartless form of entertainment, because it has nothing to do with compassionate healing.”

Duvall faded from the spotlight again after the Dr. Phil interview and only reemerged again in February 2021 in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. When asked about Dr. Phil, she was visibly distressed and the regret about the interview became clear on her face.

“I found out the kind of person he is the hard way,” Duvall said. “My mother didn’t like him, either. A lot of people, like [longtime partner] Dan, said, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, Shelley.’”

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