The Razzies overturned Shelley Duvall’s Worst Actress nomination for “The Shining.” Here’s why.
In one declaration explaining the decision, the organization said, “We have since discovered that Duvall’s performance was affected by Stanley Kubrick’s treatment of him throughout production.” Earlier this year, in a interview with vultureMo Murphy, co-founder of the Razzies, said she regretted the choice: “Knowing the backstory and how Stanley Kubrick sort of pulverized it,” Murphy said, “I would take that back.”
Duvall played the petrified wife of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a writer who takes an off-season job as a caretaker at the secluded Overlook Hotel, loses his mind, and attempts to murder his wife and son (Danny Lloyd). The 1980 film has been acclaimed since its original mixed reception – it even ranks 29th on the American Film Institute’s ranking of “100 Most Exciting American Movies.” But in the years since the film’s release, the toxic conditions surrounding Duvall’s performance have come to light. Pictures of “Do “The Shining”, ” a short documentary filmed by Kubrick’s then 17-year-old daughter Vivian and a 2021 interview with Duvall in the Hollywood Reporter, revealed an abusive environment in which Kubrick tried to keep his lead actress in a constant state of panic and made the horror a reality by berating and alienating her on set.
The Razzies’ decision to revoke Duvall’s appointment is part of a larger conversation on the dangers and disadvantages of Action method, which often involves actors seeking complete emotional identification with a character – sometimes by extreme means. The decision to rescind Razzie’s nomination also comes as Hollywood deals with the politics of failed jokes, with comedians like Amy Schumer apologizing for the racist jokes, and Eddie Murphy expressing remorse for making hurtful homophobic cracks in the past.
Founded by UCLA film school graduates John Wilson and Murphy in 1981, the Razzies give out annual awards for the “worst” categories, voted on by group members, described as “covering nearly every continents and 49 American states, with the exception of one in the Carolinas. “Awards are given – and generally received – in a good mood. In 2011, actor Tom Green showed up at the ceremony with his little one. Red carpet and played harmonica until he was kicked off the stage. That same year, Sandra Bullock brought a cart full of DVDs of his film “All About Steve”, winner of the Razzie. This year’s winners, that have been advertised online, included LeBron James for “Space Jam: A New Legacy”. According to the Razzies site, he won a trophy, spray painted gold, with an estimated value of $4.97.
Wilson says their own mission factored into the decision to take over the two Razzies. “In doing what we do, with the slogan ‘Own your evil,’ we have to live up to our own mistakes. We have to own our own evil,” he told The Washington Post, during a joint phone interview with Murphy “We don’t want to be bullies,” Murphy added, “We want to bring out the humanity in the stardom.”
This week, Wilson and Murphy brought out humanity in a different way: by acknowledging an actress’ personal pain. In the first-ever awards year, the Razzies nominated Duvall for Worst Actress. That same year they named Stanley Kubrick for directing what they considered a poor adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel. (King himself disparaged Kubrick’s adaptation, comparing Duvall’s performance to a “screaming rag.”)
Duvall’s acting in the film was criticized for being over the top, and his character was called weak and submissive. Corn Michael Blouinan English professor at Milligan University who studies King and co-edits”Violence in Stephen King’s films“, feels differently.
“Kubrick was trying to give this meta commentary on the horror genre. The movie is meant to be cartoonish,” he says. “If it’s an unrealistic portrayal, it was meant to be. If it comes across as weak, I think it just shows a blindness to what really happens in abusive relationships. And it speaks to more broadly from our blindness to the relationships that were also taking place on set.
Over the years it has become clear that Duvall not only pretended to be terrified, but was often actually terrified. Vivian Kubrick’s documentary, which originally aired on British television, shows Duvall collapsing in exhaustion on set and being scolded by the elder Kubrick, who allegedly isolated and criticized the actress in a bid to bring up the alienation his character feels in the film.
Known for being a perfectionist, Kubrick reportedly never completed a shot before the 35th strike. The famous “This is Johnny” scene, in which Nicholson’s character breaks down a bathroom door, led to 60 broken doors, over three days of shooting. Kubrick needed 127 takes to complete the staircase scene, in which Duvall brandishes a baseball bat in front of her husband – just before the guinness world record of 148 reshoots, which were defined by another scene in the film.
While giving an interview to Hollywood journalist last year, Duvall was reduced to tears upon rewatching the staircase scene. “I can only imagine how many women go through this stuff,” she said.
The filming of “The Shining” – which lasted almost a year, instead of the planned 17 weeks – took a toll on Duvall’s health. She had to constantly carry Lloyd around and maintain a state of sustained panic. She called the experience “excruciating work…almost unbearable”, saying Roger Ebert in 1980 that in the last nine months of filming, she must have cried 12 hours a day, five or six days a week. She compared it to “Primal Scream Therapy”.
To prepare for the scenes, she listened to sad music or thought about sad times in her life. “But after a while your body rebels,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It says, ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes that thought alone made me cry.
During filming, Duvall battled bouts of illness and her hair fell out due to stress. At one point during the documentary’s making-of, Duvall shows his director some strands of hair. Kubrick responds by telling her to get ready for the next scene, then says, “I don’t sympathize with Shelley.”
Murphy believes the psychological harm inflicted by Kubrick may have done lasting damage to Duvall’s career. “She was such a cool, quirky, three-dimensional character. It was a treat to see her on screen,” Murphy said of her previous performances. a change after “The Shining”. ”
In recent years, Duvall has disappeared from the spotlight. She left Hollywood in the 1990s, after producing successful children’s shows for cable television. Now 72, Duvall lives in Texas with her partner, musician Dan Gilroy. Duvall’s last acting credit was 20 years ago, in “Manna from Heaven.”
More recently, she received unwanted attention after a 2016 interview on “Dr. Phil,” during which she spoke incoherently and shared seemingly paranoid thoughts. At one point, she suggested that Robin Williams, his co-star in “Popeye”, could still be alive and “change shape”. Celebrities criticized host Phil McGraw, a clinical psychologist, saying he exploited a vulnerable subject.
But over the years, her character in “The Shining” has received constant criticism. In one Interview with the BBC in 2013, King said the film was “cold”, citing Duvall’s portrayal as “one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film.” She’s basically there to scream and be stupid, and she’s not the woman I wrote about.
What seemed to upset King the most was how distant the characters seemed. Kubrick had viewers watching the Torrances like ‘ants in an anthill’, King complained – and Duvall’s experience suggests Kubrick may have watched her acting that way too.