An indie film producer has said that he’s recruited veteran actress Shelley Duvall to co-star in an upcoming film, her first in 20 years. This is per Deadline, which reports on Scott Goldberg’s The Forest Hills, an indie horror film which Goldberg says stars Duvall, alongside E.T.’s Dee Wallace and Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s Edward Furlong. (Both of whom are prominently name-checked in Goldberg’s IMDB bio.) Duvall will apparently appear in the film as the mother of the main character, Rico (Chiko Mendez), a “mentally disturbed man” who hears his mother as his “inner voice.” Goldberg also released a behind-the-scenes photo of Duvall, apparently on the film’s set.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have some fairly serious questions, and also some reservations, about this news: Duvall, who retired from acting in 2002, last made headlines in 2016, when Phil McGraw interviewed her for a segment on Dr. Phil. After watching the interview, in which Duvall appeared agitated, with rapidly shifting thoughts, many observers criticized McGraw for exploiting the veteran actress at a time when she seemed to be suffering from mental illness. Last February, THR’s Seth Abramovitch interviewed Duvall, presenting a more-rounded picture of her struggles, and her thoughts on McGraw. (“I found out the kind of person he is the hard way,” Duvall says at one point.)
All of which is to say that it’s not clear why Duvall has chosen to break a two-decades retirement for an indie horror movie of unclear credentials—but a clear focus on casting genre legends who have fallen on hard times. (Deadline noting that it’s not clear if Duvall is working with representation is also a bit of a red flag.) We hope this is the story of a gifted performer getting back in touch with that aspect of their career after a 20 year absence, but the actual truth remains murky, at best.
More from The A.V. Club