Shelley Duvall makes her first film appearance in 20 years in 'The Forest Hills': 'I'm excited to be back'

Shelley Duvall makes her first film appearance in 20 years in The Forest Hills. (Photo: Digital Thunderdome Studios/YouTube)
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Shelley Duvall was one of the most acclaimed actors of the ’70s and ’80s, with celebrated roles in era-defining films like 3 Women, The Shining and Popeye. But after a brief appearance in 2002's Manna From Heaven, she left that career behind and all but vanished from the public spotlight. Two decades later, she's back on the big screen via a cameo appearance in the low-budget horror film, The Forest Hills.

"It was a lot of fun and I'm excited to be back," Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter upon the release of the trailer. "She thoroughly enjoyed herself and said she missed acting," echoed a representative for The Forest Hills, which will be released sometime next year. (Watch the trailer below.)

Written and directed by Scott Goldberg, The Forest Hills stars Chico Mendez as Rico, a troubled soul who may or may not be a werewolf. Adrift in the Catskills Mountains, Rico runs across other rural dwellers — including horror legend Dee Wallace and Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong — and is bedeviled by memories of his cruel mother, played by Duvall.

The road back to acting has been a long one for Duvall. Last year, the 73-year-old actress spoke to The Hollywood Reporter for a lengthy interview at her current home in Texas where she traced her beginnings in the industry in the early ’70s to her decision to leave L.A. behind in the ’90s. She also touched on her controversial 2016 appearance on Dr. Phil that left many viewers concerned for her mental health.

"I found out the kind of person he is the hard way," Duvall said of McGraw and his producing team, who were accused at the time of exploiting the actress. "My mother didn’t like him, either. A lot of people ... said, 'You shouldn’t have done that, Shelley.'"

Onscreen mother and son Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd had very different experiences making 'The Shining' (Photo: Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection)
Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd in Stanley Kubric's horror classic, The Shining. (Photo: Warner Bros./Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Whether Duvall's appearance in The Forest Hills is the beginning of a career second act or just a one-off cameo remains to be seen. But in her 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she struck a wistful note about her early days in Hollywood. "There was a whole group of starving actors that had parties," she recalled, adding that many those same actors were sometimes invited to parties at the mansions of the rich and famous.

"Some became famous," Duvall continued. "Like, there was this carpenter guy who got a big job building a waterfall for the home of a studio executive. Every time the executive would have a party, everybody saw the waterfall." Plot twist: that carpenter became Harrison Ford.

The Forest Hills will be released in 2023.