A great gift for many film fans earlier this week was a wide-ranging profile of reclusive former actress Shelley Duvall in The Hollywood Reporter, which is the first we’ve heard publicly from her since her disturbing 2016 “Dr. Phil” interview. In the segment, the show painted Duvall as someone visibly battling distressing mental illness and paranoid fantasies. In many ways, the THR piece offers redemption for Duvall, who lives in Texas with her partner Dan Gilroy, and prefers to stay outside the limelight.
“I only knew that it didn’t feel right for McGraw’s insensitive sideshow to be the final word on her legacy,” Seth Abramovitch, who wrote the piece, said in the article.
In the story, Duvall touches on her experience with the “Dr. Phil” team. “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 Dan, said, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, Shelley.’” Duvall had submitted to doing the interview without Gilroy’s knowledge. According to the story, after the broadcast and the backlash, Phil McGraw continued to try and reach Duvall.
“He started calling my mother. She told him, ‘Don’t call my daughter anymore.’ But he started calling my mother all the time trying to get her to let me talk to him again,” she said.
In a comment to THR, a spokesperson for “Dr. Phil” revealed that the show tried to arrange inpatient treatment for Duvall, who ultimately declined.
“We view every Dr. Phil episode, including Miss Duvall and her struggle with mental illness, as an opportunity to share relatable, useful information and perspective with our audiences,” the statement said. “We don’t attach the stigma associated with mental illness which many do. With no one else offering help, our goal was to document the struggle and bring amazing resources to change her trajectory as we have for so many over 19 years. Unfortunately, she declined our initial offer for inpatient treatment that would have included full physical and mental evaluations, giving her a chance to privately manage her challenges. After many months of follow-up, in collaboration with her mother, she ultimately refused assistance. We were of course very disappointed, but those offers for help remain open today.”
The story also touches on other stressful aspects of Duvall’s life, including her notoriously difficult experience while working on Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
“[Kubrick] doesn’t print anything until at least the 35th take. Thirty-five takes, running and crying and carrying a little boy, it gets hard. And full performance from the first rehearsal. That’s difficult,” she said. “After a while, your body rebels. It says: ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes just that thought alone would make me cry. To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled — I would just start crying. I’d be like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t.’ And yet I did it. I don’t know how I did it. Jack said that to me, too. He said, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’”
Read the full story over at The Hollywood Reporter.
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