Behind The Scenes Saturday: The Shining (1980)

Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! The Shining, written by legendary horror author, Stephen King, brought us a terrifying tale of isolation, abuse, and the supernatural. In 1980, famous director, Stanley Kubrick took that story and made it into his own unique vision. It has definitely divided horror fans over the years, but it still left its mark in history as one of Stephen King’s best novels, and one of Stanley Kubrick’s best films!

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  • The film’s director, Stanley Kubrick was very protective of Danny Lloyd (Danny) during filming. Danny was very young and this film was his first acting job. While filming, Danny was under the impression that The Shining was a drama, not a horror film. He didn’t see an uncut version of the film until eleven years after it was filmed.
  • Danny Lloyd was the one who came up with the idea for his character to move his finger while talking as Tony. He came up with the idea during his audition.
  • For the scene where Jack (Jack Nicholson) breaks down the door with an ax, the props department made a door that could easily be broken down. What they didn’t know was that Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer fire marshal and he tore the prop door down too easily. The props department had to build a much stronger door for the scene.
  • During shooting, there were so many changes to the script, Jack Nicholson stopped reading it. He only read the new pages that were given to him each day.
  • Anjelica Huston lived with Jack Nicholson at the time The Shining was being filmed. She recalled that when Nicholson often returned home after shooting, he would walk straight to their bed, collapse onto it, and immediately fall asleep. Considering Kubrick’s directing methods and repetitive takes, it’s not surprising at all that Jack was that exhausted after a day of filming.

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  • Shelley Duvall considered this the hardest film she ever worked on. She suffered from nervous exhaustion while filming. She also experienced physical illness and hair loss.
  • Jack Nicholson was the one who suggested Scatman Crothers (Dick Hallorann) for this film. They previously worked together on One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). For one scene, Stanley Kubrick made Scatman film it over 100 times. When Scatman went to work on his next film, Bronco Billy (1980), he broke down in gratitude when he realized he didn’t have to redo the take over and over again.
  • Despite exhausting shoots, Nicholson admitted to having a good working relationship with Kubrick. With Shelley Duvall, it was a completely different experience. Kubrick repeatedly lost his temper with her, told crew members not to sympathize with her, and told her she was wasting everyone’s time. She later stated that Kubrick was probably pushing her to her limits to get the best performance out of her. She said that she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but it’s not something she ever wished to repeat.
  • The snowy maze that Danny and Jack run through at the end of the film was made of 900 tons of salt and crushed styrofoam.
  • Stephen King, the novel’s author, was pretty disappointed with the final film. He admitted the visuals were stunning, but he stated it was surface, not substance. He described the film as “a fancy car without an engine.”

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  • Kubrick originally wanted Slim Pickens to play Dick Hallorann. However, Slim wanted nothing to do with Kubrick after working with him on Dr. Strangelove (1964).
  • After reading the novel, Jack Nicholson wanted Jessica Lange to play Wendy in the film because he felt she was close to the character Stephen King created. However, Kubrick pictured Wendy as more “timid and dependent” and felt Shelley Duvall fit his version of the character. The change in Wendy’s character is one of the reasons Stephen King disliked the film.
  • Both Robert De Niro and Robin Williams were considered for the role of Jack Torrence. After seeing Taxi Driver (1976), Kubrick felt De Niro wouldn’t be psychotic enough for the role. After seeing Mork and Mindy (1978), he felt Robin Williams was too psychotic for the role. Harrison Ford was also considered for the role at some point.
  • After filming Barry Lyndon (1975), Kubrick started researching for his next project. He did research by reading the most recent novels. His secretary recalled hearing him throw rejected books at the wall in his office. Then, Kubrick got to Stephen King’s novel. After hours of not hearing a book hit the wall, she knew he found his next project.
  • In the novel, there were hedge animals that come alive. Due to special effects restrictions, the hedge animals had to be changed into the hedge maze.











  • Due to Wendy having to constantly be in hysterics, Shelley Duvall eventually ran out of tears from crying so hard. To deal with this, Duvall kept bottles of water with her at all times on set to remain hydrated.
  • Stanley Kubrick’s secretary, Margaret Adams spent weeks typing out all of the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” pages.
  • Stephen King described Kubrick’s version of Wendy as one of the most misogynistic characters ever created. He stated that “she’s just there to scream and be stupid.”
  • For Dick Hallorann’s death scene, Kubrick wanted at least seventy takes. However, Scatman was 69 years old at the time of filming, so Jack Nicholson asked Kubrick to take it easy on Scatman and cut it down to forty takes. At one point during filming, Scatman broke down and cried, asking, “What do you want, Mr. Kubrick?”
  • The hedge maze chase scene took over a month to shoot. During filming, crew members would often get lost in the maze and had to resort to their walkie-talkies for assistance.












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