The Shining Trivia: 13 Facts About the Kubrick Classic

Danny Torrance in The Overlook in The Shining

Warner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King‘s bestselling novel The Shining remains one of the most-loved Horror movies of all time. Focusing around the family of the alcoholic caretaker of a remote snowbound hotel that’s been closed for the winter, it contains some of the most memorable scenes and lines in movie history!

Here are 13 things you didn’t know about the film…

1) Danny Lloyd came up with the ‘Tony’ finger

Danny wriggling his finger when his imaginary friend Tony speaks isn’t actually in the script. Danny Lloyd, who plays Danny Torrance in the film, just started doing it during his audition, and the filmmakers loved it and kept it in.

2) They got through 60 doors whilst filming the famous axe scene

Jack Nicholson chopping through the door with an axe, filling the splintered gap with his face and exclaiming, ‘Here’s Johnny,’ is arguably the most famous horror scene of all time. But getting the scene just right took time. according to Shelley Duvall, it took 3 days to film, and they got through 60 doors.

Wendy Torrance in The Shining
Warner Bros.

3) Danny didn’t know he was filming a horror

Kubrick was very protective over Danny Lloyd, as he was only 6 at the time of filming. To stop him from getting scared, Kubrick told Danny the film was a drama. Danny was actually absent during the film’s most horrific moments; even during the scene where Wendy is shouting at Jack whilst seemingly carrying the boy. It was actually a doll Shelley Duvall was holding! Danny Lloyd didn’t realise the film was a horror until years later.

4) Nicholson was fed cheese sandwiches to agitate him

To help get Nicholson into the right state of mind for playing the rageful Jack Torrance, a number of measures were taking on set; including feeding him only a food that he hated – cheese sandwiches. Apparently for two whole weeks, that bread-and-cheddar snack was the only thing Nicholson was given to eat.

5) Nicholson made light work of the initial door

So that the actor could break the door apart without too much effort, the props department deliberately made it weak. However, Nicholson had actually served time as a voluntary fire marshal, and effortlessly smashed the door to pieces. The props team had to make the doors much stronger after that.

Warner Bros.

6) The tennis ball was Nicholson’s idea

We first start seeing how distracted from work Jack has become when he starts bouncing that tennis ball off the walls of the Overlook. But the ball wasn’t in the script. Instead, the script simply read, ‘Jack is not working.’ Nicholson came up with the idea of Jack thrashing the the tennis ball off the walls himself.

7) Kubrick cancelled filming one day to play chess

One day, one of the actors with a minor role in the film brought a chess set with him, in the hope that he’d get to have a game with one of the cast or crew members in between takes. Kubrick – who was a big fan of chess and was very good at the game – spotted the chess set and cancelled filming for the rest of the day so that he could play chess with the actor.

8) Slim Pickens turned down the role of Hallorann in The Shining

After working with Slim Pickens on the film Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick had the actor in mind for the role of the Overlook’s cook, Dick Hallorann. However, Pickens had hated working with the director and refused. Nicholson suggested Scatman Crothers for the part, having worked with him on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Crothers had an awful time filming The Shining, with Kubrick famously making him shoot one scene over one hundred times.

Warner Bros.

9) Stephen King was not a fan of the film

Stephen King wrote The Shining in 1977 whilst staying in the Stanley Hotel, which was closed down for the winter at the time. The author felt that Kubrick had lost a lot of the substance behind his book, and described the film as ‘a fancy car without an engine.’

10) The secretary knew Kubrick had chosen to adapt The Shining when the book didn’t hit the wall

When he was looking for his next film project, Kubrick would sit in his office and read through a pile of books. If a book didn’t captivate him quickly, he would throw it at the wall. His secretary, who sat in the room next door, knew he had found his next project in The Shining when she didn’t hear the sound of the book hitting the wall.

11) All work and no play

One of the most impactful scenes in the film comes when Wendy starts leafing through Jack’s work and discovers page after page of the phrase, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ It was allegedly Stanley Kubrick’s own secretary who typed out all of the sheets – spending week after week on the task.

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980)
Warner Bros.

12) Salt and Styrofoam

The film’s incredible conclusion happens in the snowy hedge maze, where Jack chases Danny with the axe before succumbing to his sprained ankle and the biting cold. Although this wintry scene may have looked convincing, it actually wasn’t snow at all; but rather 900 tons of salt, along with lots of crushed Styrofoam.

13) The women in the bath

The young women in the bath tub of room 237 was played by Lia Beldam. When Jack starts kissing her and stares into the mirror, he sees that she’s transformed into a decaying old woman, played by Billie Gibson. Both women only ever appeared in this one film.

The Shining trailer


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