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He Found Shelley Duvall, and She Was 'Engrossing'

Seth Abramovitch tracks down the actress in Texas Hill Country
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2021 4:16 PM CST

(Newser) – Seth Abramovitch has managed to find Shelley Duvall, the actress forever famous for her turn as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. She essentially vanished when she left Hollywood for Texas in the '90s, only resurfacing in 2016 with an appearance on a mental illness episode of Dr. Phil that many found disturbing and exploitative. For the Hollywood Reporter, Abramovitch writes that he managed to track down and meet with the now-71-year-old in Texas Hill Country in January "unsure of what I would find when I got there. I only knew that it didn't feel right for McGraw's insensitive sideshow to be the final word on her legacy." And while "her mood ebbed and flowed throughout the day ... I found her memory to be sharp and her stories engrossing," he writes.

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Engrossing is certainly a word that could be applied to Abramovitch's piece. He takes us to the party Duvall threw that ended up changing her life, recounts her airport breakup with Paul Simon, shares praise for the actress from the many celebrities she worked with, and delves into her many roles before The Shining. But fans of that film will eagerly eat up her comments on that movie and the emotional toll it took on her, including her recollection of shooting a staircase scene a staggering 127 times. Noting she hadn't seen the film in years, Abramovitch pulled up the scene, in which she swings a bat at a murderous Jack Nicholson, on his phone. She started crying. "We filmed that for about three weeks," she explained. "Every day. It was very hard. Jack was so good—so damn scary. I can only imagine how many women go through this kind of thing." (Read the full piece here.)

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