Whatever happened to Shelley Duvall?
For years, the world has questioned why Shelley Duvall quit acting and left Hollywood behind in the early 2000s, after starring in big films such as The Shining, Annie Hall and Popeye.
Nearly thirty years ago, the once in-demand movie star fled sunny Studio City, California and moved to Texas, leaving the spotlight for good. And her reasons why are still somewhat unknown.
Prior to this year, Duvall’s most recent public appearance occurred in 2016 during a controversial televised interview with Dr. Phil.
For those not familiar, the interview painted Duvall’s mental health state as a mockery. During the chat, Duvall was asked about Robin Williams’ passing. She responded with various eccentric statements, including that she believed her late Popeye co-star was very much alive and existing as a shapeshifter among society.
After the interview aired, Duvall was made the butt of mental illness jokes online and in the press.
Many, however, defended her, including Stanley Kubrick’s daughter, Vivian, who criticized Dr. Phil for being “exploitative” with his segment.
On Twitter, she called the "shameful" interview a "form of lurid entertainment."
Following the interview, Duvall returned to her reclusive state and withdrew even more from the spotlight—until this year.
In Feb. 2021, Duvall, now 71 years old, reemerged in a new profile interview with Seth Ambramovich for The Hollywood Reporter, in which she revealed where she's been, how she feels about her legacy as an actress, and that she’s been in a romantic relationship with musician Dan Gilroy since 1989. (They two met on the set of Disney Channel’s Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme.)
When discussing why she left show business, Duvall, who retired from acting after her final film, 2002’s Manna From Heaven, told The Hollywood Reporter that “they wear you out,” in reference to the relentless Hollywood machine and other people in general.
One of the films that wore Duvall out specifically was The Shining. Though one of her most iconic works, Duvall admits that the 1980 horror film was “hell to be a part of” and that if director Stanley Kubrick “hadn't done everything with force and cruelty, then I guess it wouldn't have turned out to be as it was."
It’s been long rumored that her Shining co-stars were instructed to not sympathize with her on set in order to push her mental state to the brink, mimicking the isolation and fear her character was meant to express, which ultimately left the actress alone and friendless on set.
Now, with her gray hair and casual, cozy clothes, you might hardly recognize her as the once dark-haired Wendy Torrance—or the glamorous starlet who once graced countless chic Hollywood galas in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
However, it’s clear that Duvall is at peace and content with her life off the grid in rural Texas, not so far from where she was born in Fort Worth. And regardless of where Shelley Duvall is today or how the public remembers her, her catalog of excellent, poignant on-screen performances will always remain her truest legacy.