Shelley Duvall is set to make her acting return after a 20 year break

 (The Forest Hills (2023) Official Trailer)
(The Forest Hills (2023) Official Trailer)

Shelley Duvall, the actor’s best known for playing Jack Nicholson’s distressed wife Wendy Torrance in The Shining, is returning to the screen after a 20-year hiatus.

The 73-year-old is set to have a role in the upcoming horror film The Forest Hills, from documentary director Scott Goldberg.

It follows Rico, played by Chico Mendez, who is tormented by visions after a head injury. Duvall will play his mother.

In the film’s trailer, which was released yesterday, audiences get their first glimpse of Duvall in years. Staring directly at the camera in front of a black background she shouts, “You’re a f**king murderer Rico.”

In the two-and-a-half-minute clip, Rico is seen wandering woods, acting strangely and becoming increasingly distressed. In some scenes he is covered in blood, in others, he is crying.

The actor’s last appearance on screen was not in a film but a 2016 TV interview with Dr Phil in the US. Duvall was clearly struggling with her mental health, saying, “I’m very sick, I need help.”

There was huge backlash when the interview aired, with celebrities criticising Dr Phil for exposing Duvall and capitalising on her mental illness.

Mia Farrow Tweeted: “It is upsetting & unethical to exploit beloved Shelley Duval at this vulnerable time in her life. Do not air that show!!”

Her last acting role had been in 2002’s Manna from Heaven, an award-winning indie film about a neighbourhood in New York that is showered with $20 bills, and her last role on TV was in a 1999 episode of ABC sitcom The Hughleys.

Duvall began her career in the Seventies, with roles in 1971’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller and 1974’s Thieves Like Us but remains best known for her role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 cult horror The Shining.

But despite finding international fame with the role, and though Wendy became an iconic character of the horror genre, Duvall’s career plateaued. She had a leading role in Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film Time Bandits and in Tim Burton’s 1984 film Frankenweenie, but spent the late Eighties and Nineties acting in secondary roles.

Her time on The Shining set had been hard: according to Rolling Stone, Kubrick was a perfectionist, and filming was gruelling with actors sometimes having to make over one hundred takes of the same scene.

In a 1980 interview with American film critic Roger Ebert, Duvall reportedly said that filming The Shining was, “Going through day after day of excruciating work. Almost unbearable. Jack Nicholson’s character had to be crazy and angry all the time. And in my character I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. I was there a year and a month.”

In a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Shining, which was filmed by Kubrick’s daughter Vivian, Duvall says, “From May until October I was really in and out of ill health. Because the stress of the role was so great and the stress of being away from home, just uprooted, and moved somewhere else, and I’d just gotten out of a relationship. So for me it was just tumultuous.”

In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Stephen King, who wrote the 1997 book The Shining was based on, criticised Kubrick’s adaptation, calling it “so misogynistic” and saying that “Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag”.

The release date of The Forest Hills is yet to be confirmed