‘Dr. Phil’ Shelley Duvall Interview Sparks Discussion About Actress’ Mental Health

Seth Kelley and Cynthia Littleton
Variety

Phil McGraw interviewed Shelley Duvall, who is suffering from apparent mental health issues, on a controversial episode of “Dr. Phil” Friday called “From Hollywood Star to Near Isolation.”

The film and television actress who starred in 1980’s Stanley Kubrick classic “The Shining” and Robert Altman’s “Popeye,” Duvall has been out of the public eye for over a decade and currently lives in Texas where the interview took place.

A rep for “Dr. Phil” declined to comment on criticism of the decision to run Phil McGraw’s lengthy interview with Duvall. The session was taped last month, a source said. Since then, the show has coordinated with Duvall’s family and has been providing free resources to help the actress at her home in Texas.

A conversation between McGraw and Duvall took up first 45 minutes of the hour-long episode. The rest followed Duvall as she was escorted to the Creative Care mental health treatment center in Malibu where, according to McGraw, she stayed for three days and refused traditional medication.

During the interview, McGraw asked Duvall questions including where she lives, what makes her happy, and whether she would like to return to acting. When McGraw asked which of her movies is her favorite and suggested “The Shining” or “Popeye,” Duvall responded, “I had a great time on ‘Popeye.’ It was so much fun.”

Duvall then stated that she believes Robin Williams, her late co-star in the film, is not dead, and a “shapeshifter.” She also said she believes someone is trying to attack her, among other unverified and rambling claims.

The conversation between McGraw and Duvall was intercut with clips of the actress in films and interviews before her mental state had declined. “During our interview, Shelley was either avoiding all of the questions or was in and out of contact with reality,” McGraw said in between segments.

McGraw cited the assistance of Duvall’s mother and boyfriend. At the episode’s conclusion, McGraw stated that the show will “keep you updated on her progress,” and that he hopes there is “a happy ending to this story.”

The loudest critic of “Dr. Phil’s” depiction of Duvall’s condition has been Vivian Kubrick, the daughter of legendary director Kubrick. Duvall has been on record as saying that the intense experience of working with Kubrick and co-star Jack Nicholson on the film in England left her emotionally scarred.

Vivian Kubrick slammed “Dr. Phil” via Twitter on Wednesday, calling the show “purely a form of lurid and exploitive entertainment — it’s appallingly cruel.” She has also launched a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Duvall in an effort to “start her back on the road to independence and perhaps back to health.”

Ronan Farrow tweeted seven times about the interview, calling the interview “exploitation” and “shameless.” He encouraged viewers to not tune into “Dr. Phil” and instead watch a clip of Duvall’s acting instead.


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