The Dark Side of Stanley Kubrick’s Perfectionism: Shelly Duvall’s Treatment on the Set of ‘The Shining’

Stanley Kubrick is undoubtedly one of the most renowned and revered filmmakers of all time. However, there are some stories that suggest he was difficult to work with on set. One of the most famous examples of this is the treatment of Shelly Duvall during the filming of “The Shining”.

“The Shining” is a psychological horror film that was released in 1980. The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and starred Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall. The movie tells the story of Jack Torrance, a writer who takes a job as a caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado, with his wife Wendy and their son Danny. However, the isolation of the hotel and Jack’s descent into madness lead to terrifying consequences.

While Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance is often cited as one of the highlights of the film, the same cannot be said for Duvall’s performance as Wendy. Some people believe that this is because of Kubrick’s treatment of her on set.

Kubrick was known for being a demanding and perfectionist director, often requiring many takes of each shot to get it exactly right. However, it seems that his behavior towards Duvall went beyond this. In the documentary “Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures”, Kubrick’s former assistant Leon Vitali revealed that the director would often berate and belittle Duvall in front of the cast and crew, calling her “a waste of space” and “one of the hardest people I’ve ever had to work with.”

Duvall’s performance in “The Shining” is famously over-the-top, with many critics and audiences finding it grating or even irritating. However, some people believe that this is a direct result of Kubrick’s treatment of her on set. Duvall has spoken publicly about the experience, saying that she was “miserable” during the filming and that it was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

Despite the difficulties she faced on set, Duvall managed to deliver a performance that is still remembered and discussed today. While it is easy to dismiss her work in “The Shining” as over-the-top or annoying, it is important to remember the circumstances under which it was created. Duvall was working with a director who was notoriously difficult and demanding, and who seemed to take pleasure in belittling and berating her. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps a wonder that she was able to deliver any kind of performance at all.

In conclusion, the story of Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of Shelly Duvall on the set of “The Shining” is one of the most famous examples of a director mistreating an actor. While Kubrick was undoubtedly a genius filmmaker, it is important to remember that his behavior towards Duvall was unacceptable and should not be condoned or excused. Duvall’s performance in “The Shining” is a testament to her resilience and talent, and serves as a reminder that actors deserve to be treated with respect and dignity on set.

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