Shelley Duvall, Unrecognizable and Facing Mental Illness, Exploited on ‘Dr. Phil’
Shelley Duvall, star of The Shining, Popeye and Faerie Tale Theatre, is unrecognizable in a jarring new interview with Dr. Phil. Not "unrecognizable" in that age-shaming way that Hollywood actresses over 40 get for growing biologically older, but in the fact that she appears to be in the throes of battle with mental illness that's also taken a toll on her health. That battle is placed front and center in a new and somewhat exploitative-feeling sit-down with the onetime Oprah regular.
"From red carpet to near recluse," a lurid voiceover says in the teaser clip, as vintage footage of the once willowy actress dissolves into a photograph of a very different Shelley Duvall in 2016.
"I loved Robin Williams," Duvall says of her 1980 Popeye costar (Shelley played his love Olive Oyl).
"Where do you think he is?" Dr. Phil asks, though it's hard to imagine he and his producers aren't already anticipating a delusional answer that will rivet viewers.
"Shapeshifting," she replies.
"Do you see him?" Dr. Phil responds, to which she replies, "Half, yes."
Duvall also shares apparent delusions that she was threatened by a man who is the "Sheriff of Nottingham" and, hardest to hear of all, "I think there's a whirring disk inside me."
Dr. Phil replies to her declaration that she's "very sick" and "needs help" with a paternal, "Well that's why I'm here." While mental illness should never be further stigmatized by concealing one's battle with it out of shame and there may be some value in the visibility of publicly asking for help, is that "help" best conducted onscreen? Vivian Kubrick, daughter of The Shining director Stanley Kubrick has joined the growing voices questioning Dr. Phil's motives, and called for a boycott of the upcoming interview.
Shelley Duvall's last role was in 2002 ensemble comedy Manna From Heaven, and she's been living in Blanco, Texas since retiring from acting. Her alleged mental illness and "recluse" lifestyle was the subject of a 2009 National Enquirer story, before being treated with nominally more respect on Dr. Phil. Hopefully, Duvall will indeed get help and any psychological support she may be in need of after the Dr. Phil interview on November 18.
Watch clips from Shelley Duvall's Dr. Phil interview below.
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